This page contains answers to questions we have been asked by residents about the future of St Raph’s.
General overview and definitions
What is the council’s definition of affordable housing?
The term ‘affordable housing’ describes homes that are affordable to households earning the national average income, or below. It’s used to describe several different types of rental homes:
Socially rented homes – provided by councils or housing associations, more affordable than renting privately, with longer, more secure tenancies
Affordable rented homes – provided by councils or housing associations, with a higher cost than socially-rented homes but lower than local market-rate. This can be up to 80% of the market rate, however, Brent Council’s policy is not to support rents above 65% of market-rate wherever possible and no newly developed council-owned properties will charge more than London Affordable Rent (50% of the market).
Intermediate housing – provided by councils or housing associations at less than the local market rate, including schemes that help people to buy or rent a home that they can afford. Examples include Shared Ownership and Shared Equity schemes.
What is the council’s definition of an overcrowded home?
The council has a Housing Allocations Policy, which it uses as a set of rules to decide how its limited amount of social housing is shared among residents. Having a policy makes sure that access to social housing is fair for everyone, and that those who need it most get priority. For the future St Raph’s, the requirements of each household will be assessed using the Policy guidelines.
The Policy uses the Government’s definition of the minimum amount of space required for a household to be considered overcrowded. A standard calculation is used to work this out, taking into account the age of the occupants, size of rooms and number of bedrooms. When allocating separate bedrooms, gender is taken into account where there are multiple children or young people aged 10 or over.
What options do residents have if they want to leave the estate before the infill process begins?
We want to support the existing community to stay together. However:
If you are a homeowner or leaseholder and you wish to leave for any reason, you can sell your home on the open market as normal or approach Brent Council to buy your home from you.
If you are a council tenant and you wish to leave the estate, there might be an opportunity to swap your home for a home elsewhere in the borough. Please email us in the first instance.
Tenants of Housing Associations should speak to their Housing Association representative.
From June 2019 onwards there have been plenty of opportunities for residents to ask questions and get answers from the council. The project and design team have held several public events and design workshops. There have also been estate walkabouts, training sessions for St Raphael’s residents and study trips to other redevelopment and infill sites. These events have been supported by day-to-day engagement through door knocking, drop-in sessions at Henderson House, email correspondence and face-to-face updates.
Will any homes still be demolished?
No. With infill development, new homes would be built on open spaces and no existing homes would be demolished. Nobody would have to move from their current home.
Could existing residents get the first choice of the new homes?
If your home is overcrowded, or if you need special housing because of a medical or extra care need, you will be able to apply for and move into a new home that is right for you.
If you are a council tenant and have more bedrooms than you need, you might be able to move into a smaller new home.
When will work start?
We will be working closely with residents over the coming months to design the Infill Plus scheme. The first part of this, Phase 1, has already started. We hope to submit a planning application in Spring 2022, start building the new homes in Spring 2023 and complete construction in Spring 2026.
How long will infill take to deliver, from start to finish?
The infill masterplan is made up of different, individual sites for building homes in various locations across the estate. If residents prefer this option, each site, once approved, would likely take around 18 months to two years to build. However, building work on multiple sites could take place at the same time.
Will rents go up as a result of the significant estate improvements?
No. Existing tenants will not be affected and estate leaseholders will not have to contribute towards the cost of estate wide improvements identified and delivered through Infill Plus.
Design and delivery
Why is it necessary to begin work on detailed designs for the first phase now?
Coronavirus has shone a light on the number of households in the borough living in overcrowded homes or temporary accommodation, without access to their own private outdoor space or good quality parks. To make matters worse, many private renters face crippling rents combined with the risk of eviction. It’s vital that we all work together to create these much needed new, affordable homes for local people sooner rather than later.
The detailed designs for the first phase of development, on open space to the south of the estate, will give everyone a chance to see what new homes will look like.
When will construction begin?
Because we will be starting the detailed design of phase 1 in early 2021, construction on this site is likely to start in 2022.
Construction will then carry on from phase 1, on a phase-by-phase basis.
Can the council guarantee that all building work will be completed, regardless of the future political climate?
As a council, we are absolutely committed to delivering the best scheme for St Raph’s, and we are confident that this and future governments will be supportive of house building and resident supported development. However, some factors like local politics, national government priorities and gaining funding through grants and borrowing will always be outside of our control.
Why is there not a refurbishment option?
The term refurbishment means the process of bringing things or keeping things up to an agreed standard. All homes owned by the council are already maintained to an agreed standard. This maintenance will continue.
How many new homes would infill create?
Co-design workshops between residents and Karakusevic Carson Architects are exploring the masterplan options, including the number of homes that could be delivered through each approach. Workshops for infill development were held in November 2019. Following completion of the workshops, your design team developed the initial masterplans (.pdf, 14.76MB) which were presented to the community in Spring 2020.
Will there be a limit for how many storeys high the development will be?
We know that from the feedback we have received from residents at co-design events, the community generally prefers buildings less than six storeys high. The final masterplans will reflect this, alongside advice from our own planning team.
What will be the split between flats, maisonettes and houses?
The number and split of flats, maisonettes and houses will depend on a combination of what residents prefer, what is needed for St Raph’s residents and those in housing need across Brent, and the overall cost to the council. Although we cannot say for sure at this stage, we expect there to be around 75% flats plus 25% maisonettes and houses. We’re also aiming to build more family homes, with three bedrooms or more, to help reduce overcrowding.
Will new buildings have lifts?
Lifts will be provided for all new buildings above one storey (apart from houses). All new homes will also have step-free access.
Will all materials used in construction be safe?
Buildings and materials used for construction on St Raph’s will be checked and approved to make sure they meet the most up-to-date national building regulations. These include structural safety, fire safety, protection from falling, window safety, electrical safety and more. New homes will also use materials with lower environmental impacts.
Will future homes have more privacy?
When creating design proposals for St Raph’s, the architects will need to show how each home has an appropriate level of sound and visual privacy to neighbouring properties, the street and other public spaces. This will include the location, and view from, windows, rooms, gardens and balconies.
What input will residents have towards designing the interiors of new homes?
Residents will be able to choose between different options of materials and layout for some spaces within the new homes.
What is the council doing to ensure that the land around the estate, which was once used for waste disposal, is safe to build on?
Many areas in Brent have an industrial or commercial past. Developers and landowners are required to ensure that land is safe for intended use, especially if we have identified it as being potentially contaminated. Our Contaminated Land Strategy (.pdf, 1.17MB) outlines how Brent Council deals with contaminated land in the area. It details how we identify and prioritise sites for further investigation, and includes information on clean up (also known as remediation), liability and enforcement.
Will the council consider providing dedicated housing for people aged 60 or over, as part of the proposals?
Brent Council provides Extra Care homes for people who require additional social or medical support. This could be considered as part of the infill masterplan.
How will the estate be made safer?
The design of the new homes will help with this:
By placing entrances and windows on street fronts, and around public spaces, there will be more activity and greater interaction amongst neighbours – reducing the number of isolated spaces
Entrances to all new houses, maisonettes and flats will be proper front doors of high quality
Shared entrances will be visible from public spaces, be well lit and have suitable security systems in place
The number of homes within each building, and how people circulate within them, will also be taken into account.
The design team will also work with the Police, as part of their Secured by Design initiative, to improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit.
How will the project affect available land on the estate?
To build the much-needed new homes for the existing St Raph’s community, and other Brent residents, we will need to use some of the estate’s available land. This has been talked about with the 200 residents who have taken part in design workshops so far. To minimise the loss of good quality open spaces, we will aim to only use land that is currently underused or of less quality.
What percentage of green spaces will remain?
75% of green spaces will be retained.
Will transport routes be improved?
With more residents moving to the area, there is a clear opportunity to improve transport routes for walking, cycling, public and private transport. The design team, the council and Transport for London have opened conversations about improving routes.
We will continue to update this page with new information as it becomes available. However, if you have a question, please get in touch.