Frequently Asked Questions

 This page contains answers to questions we have been asked by residents about the future of St Raph’s. To make the responses easier to follow, we have split them into five categories:

General overview and definitions
Design and delivery
Landlord offer
Ballot
Infrastructure

The tabs also provide additional information for council tenants, homeowners and leaseholders, private tenants and households living in temporary accommodation. 

This page was updated on 14 October 2020, to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


General overview and definitions

What is happening at St Raphael's?

Brent Council wants to improve the experience of living on St Raphael’s estate for everyone, while also increasing the amount of affordable housing for local people. We are working with local residents, community stakeholders and industry experts to work out the best ways to do this. The process is called masterplanning because we will be developing a high level (master) plan.

What will the masterplans focus on?

We are considering two approaches to improve the experience of living on St Raph’s and increase the amount of affordable housing: infill development and redevelopment. A masterplan will be developed for each approach.

With infill development, new homes would be built on open spaces and no existing homes would be demolished. Depending on the amount of new homes built, it might be possible for the council to fund some estate improvements but this is likely to be limited. Existing council homes would be maintained as they are now.

With redevelopment, all or part of the estate would be redesigned. Some or all of the existing homes and facilities would be demolished in phases over a long period, with new homes, parks and community facilities built.

Because of the housing shortage in the borough, doing nothing is not an option.

Which parts of St Raph’s will be included in the masterplans?

In December 2019 Brent Council's Cabinet approved that only the area known locally as ‘St Raphael’s Estate’ would be included within the future masterplans, and that the area known locally as the ‘Old Estate’ would be removed from the masterplanning exercise. The decision followed extensive consultation with residents and a detailed study of the design and financial considerations around the proposals. Only residents living within this area will now be eligible to vote in the ballot.

The area to be included within the masterplans includes the following roads:

  • Bentham Walk
  • Besant Way
  • Hardie Close
  • Henderson Close
  • Lansbury Close
  • Lilburne Walk
  • Lovett Way
  • Owen Way
  • Pitfield Way (1-65 odd numbers only, and 66–120)
  • Overton Close
  • Rainborough Close
  • Tillett Close

 

A map of the area to be included is on page 3 of Frequently Asked Questions - December 2019  (.pdf, 5.28MB)

Is the council listening to what residents want?

Yes - we are committed to a community led approach to developing the masterplans. This is because only by working with the people who live and work here will we be able to deliver the best plan for the future of the area.

We want residents to have their say, which is why a big consultation is currently taking place. Since December 2018 we have held public meetings, drop in sessions, workshops, public exhibitions and a community day. We have provided training and organised two visits to other redevelopment and infill schemes elsewhere in London. We have also been knocking on doors, speaking to as many people as possible. Information has been shared with you through newsletters and leaflets delivered to your door, e-newsletters, social media and posters around the local area.

It is vitally important that you take part in the process, so that your views are included. If you do not take part, and tell us what you think, your views will not be heard. If you have been unable to access the information provided so far, for any reason, please get in touch

How can I have my say?

Upcoming events are published on the Future Events page. You can also sign up to receive email updates, SMS reminders or join our Facebook Group. We also publish all upcoming events in newsletters, and deliver leaflets to all households the week before with all the details. If you would prefer not to attend events, you can email us your feedback.

You can also have a chat with our Community Engagement Officer Mohamoud over a cup of tea. Give him a call on 07776 665 226 to arrange a convenient time.

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 home:

  • 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 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 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, to decide what size home they need.

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 or redevelopment process begins?

We want to support the existing community to stay together during and after whichever approach is delivered for the estate. 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. 

When will the next public meeting take place?

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 four public events and 10 public design workshops. There have also been four estate walkabouts, three training sessions for St Raphael’s residents and two 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. 

To complement the engagement that has taken place so far, we will also be organising a meeting where residents will have the opportunity to ask questions of the council’s senior management team – similar to a council cabinet meeting.  We want to do this when there is new information to talk about, so it will most likely take place in the spring or early summer 2020. We will publicise the event in advance.  

Design and delivery

How long will infill or redevelopment take, from start to finish?

How long the building work lasts, from start to finish, will depend on whether infill or redevelopment is favoured by residents. In both cases, it will take around 12 months to initially develop detailed plans and get the approvals needed to begin building work.

The infill option 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.  

The redevelopment option would likely take around 10 years in total, depending on the scale and speed of building work. It would take place in phases so that residents can move into their new home before their previous home is demolished. The aim of delivering the redevelopment masterplan in this way is so that all residents only have to make one move, from their existing home into their new home.

Why has the original timeline changed?

The timeline first changed in winter 2019/2020, to hear a range of views about which areas of the estate should be included in the masterplans. The timeline has now changed again as the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented face-to-face conversations from taking place. As a result, we wanted to provide more time to learn about what both masterplan options will mean for your household.

The ballot is now planned to take place in 2021, when social distancing rules are expected to have eased. This will enable face-to-face conversations to resume, or if not, it will allow more time for each household to fully understand what both options will mean for them.  

The design team will also begin working with the community to create detailed designs for the first phase of development, which will be delivered for both masterplan options. The designs for phase one, which will follow the community Design Code, will show what new homes could look like but would not be finalised until after the resident ballot. The location of the first phase is open space to the south of the estate. No existing homes will be affected.

Why is it necessary to begin work on detailed designs for the first phase, before the ballot?

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. The plans would not be finalised until after the ballot.

When will construction begin for either infill or redevelopment?

Because we will be starting the detailed design of phase 1 in early 2021, construction on this site is likely to start in 2022.

For the remainder of the masterplans (infill or redevelopment), we would seek for the necessary planning approvals after the ballot decision – this would likely be in 2022. Construction would 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 infill or redevelopment 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 regardless of whether the infill or redevelopment approach is delivered.

If the infill approach is progressed following the ballot, the council might be able to fund other estate improvements but this is likely to be limited and would not include improvements to council homes over and above the existing maintenance programme. There would be no council-funded improvements delivered to privately owned homes (including those owned by Housing Associations) as a result of any infill development, and no improvement to leasehold homes beyond that for which the council already has a duty.

How many new homes would infill development or redevelopment 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, and workshops for redevelopment will take place in January 2020. Following completion of the workshops, your design team developed the initial masterplans which were presented to the community in Spring 2020.

How would either approach be funded, and what other organisations would be involved?

If the infill development option were progressed, the council would fund it alongside a grant from the Greater London Authority (GLA) if it were available. The council has not decided how it would fund redevelopment if this were chosen, but it would likely be a mixture of council funding, grant funding from the GLA and borrowing.

For the redevelopment approach, is the council proposing partial or full redevelopment of the estate?

Through the ongoing co-design work with residents, both full and partial redevelopment will be considered (working within the site and design constraints).

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?

For both infill and redevelopment, all new designs, 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 for 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. This will happen after the ballot, once we know which masterplan is being taken forward.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of infill and redevelopment?

At the end of 2019 we developed a set of community priorities with St Raph’s residents. This set out what the community would want to see delivered as part of any future scheme. The design team then created options for both infill and redevelopment, based on these priorities, which were presented to the community in March 2020. Each option meets the community priorities in differing ways.

Can the council guarantee that people will only be moved within Brent?

Yes. If the community favours the redevelopment option, our aim is for all residents to only make one move, from their existing home into their new home. If some residents do have to be moved more than once, to help the development continue, they would only be moved within Brent.

Will Karakusevic Carson Architects and PPCR remain as the architect and independent advisor for the whole of the project?

Both Karakusevic Carson Architects and PPCR were commissioned to support the project up to the end of the resident ballot. We will then need to commission a new design team, or extend the commission of the existing design team, to develop the detail of the masterplan (infill or redevelopment) for submission for planning consent.  We will also review the appointment of the Resident Advisor, as this role is not typically required for infill development.

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 for either masterplan option?

Many areas in Brent have an industrial or commercial past. Developers and land owners 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.

Landlord Offer

What is the Landlord Offer?

The Landlord Offer for households in St Raph’s will set out what everyone can expect to gain from either infill or redevelopment, whether they are a council tenant, leaseholder, private tenant or household living in temporary accommodation.

We will send every household a draft Landlord Offer early in 2021 for your review and input. The final Landlord Offer will be then be sent to all eligible residents prior to the ballot.

What percentage of homes and tenancies would be council owned?

We want to build, and own, as many of the new homes as we can afford to.

If the community favours the redevelopment option, around half of the new homes built would be for affordable or social rent. We are aiming for as many of these as possible to be owned and managed by the council, with the rest owned and managed by Housing Association partners. The remaining homes would be sold privately, to help pay for the overall redevelopment.

For infill, we are currently working out the affordability of the council owning all of the new homes.

What will happen to homes that are currently under or over occupied?

In early 2020 we undertook a Housing Needs Assessment survey for St Raph’s, so we could better understand issues like overcrowding and the need to downsize. We’re aware from the results of the survey that some council tenants would like to downsize.

If the community favours the redevelopment option, all council tenants will be offered a new home that is the right size for their needs. This means households that are currently overcrowded will be offered a larger home. We are currently looking at what options we can offer to council tenants who are in homes that are too big for their needs. These options will be included in the Landlord Offer.

For infill, there may be a voluntary option for council tenants to downsize – but only if they want to.

Will current tenants be given flats or houses?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, all council tenants will be offered a home that is the right size for their needs. This means that tenants who are overcrowded will be offered a larger home that could be a house, a maisonette or a flat. If a household would prefer to stay in a house or a flat, we will try to accommodate this but it might not always be possible.

For the redevelopment approach, would there be an increase in monthly rent for council tenants?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, we will keep rent for council tenants as close to current levels as possible.

For infill, rent for new homes will likely be set at London Affordable Rent, which is around 50% of market rent. This is the same as for other new homes built by the council in Brent.

For the redevelopment approach, would there still be leasehold/freehold properties?

Yes. We would aim for a mix of property types across the new estate. This level of detail will be developed for when the masterplan is submitted for planning consent.

If redevelopment were delivered, what size would my new home be?

All new homes would be built to current national space standards, which are larger than the space standards the existing properties on the estate were built to.

For council tenants, the exact size of your new home would be dependent on your specific housing needs. New council homes in Brent have won several major industry awards in recent years, reflecting our commitment to providing the highest quality, affordable council housing.

If redevelopment were delivered, would adult children be rehoused with their parents?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, council tenants who have adult children living within their household can choose to:

  • Move to a new home together with their family, or

  • Be offered a split tenancy where their adult child is offered a tenancy (home) of their own, as part of the redevelopment.

Please email us and we can discuss your individual situation.

If redevelopment were delivered, would my ‘Right to Buy’ remain protected?

The Right to Buy allows most council tenants to buy their council home at a discount.

If the community favours the redevelopment option, all council tenants moving to a new council-owned property will retain their secure tenancy and all accompanying rights – including the Right to Buy. However, your discount may be reduced so that it is not below the cost that was spent by the council on building the property.

For more information visit the Right to Buy website or email us

Will landlord, council and housing association tenancy agreements remain the same as they currently are?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, all council tenants moving to a new council-owned home would have the same secure tenancy rights as they do now. We are currently working on the offer for Housing Association tenants and households who rent privately; both will be included in the Landlord Offer.

In infill is delivered, will new homes be prioritised for residents living in overcrowded homes?

We are looking at ways we might be able to offer new homes within an infill scheme to existing council tenants living in homes that are overcrowded. This will also be included in the Landlord Offer.

Will older residents get priority for ground floor apartments?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, when allocating new homes we will consider the needs of every household individually to ensure their new home is accessible. Necessary adaptations can also be made to new homes to make sure they are accessible to households with specific needs.

Will new homes have private outdoor space?

Yes. All new houses, maisonettes and flats will have a minimum of five square meters of private outdoor space for 1-2 person homes, with an extra square meter provided for each additional occupant.

If redevelopment is delivered, what will be the size range of new homes?

For both the infill and redevelopment options, we’re aiming to create a mix of one, two, three, four and five bedroom homes.

When will households be assessed for their housing needs?

In early 2020 we undertook a Housing Needs Assessment survey for St Raph’s, so we could understand the makeup of households on the estate. Before each phase of construction begins, we would repeat this survey to make sure we plan for the needs of residents.  

Will there be a community fund for the estate?

Community funds are normally set up once building work begins. St Raphael’s Voice, your independent resident board who represent the community, would work with us on this.

You can contact your resident board by emailing straphaelsvoice@ppcr.org.uk

If redevelopment is delivered, will I have a choice of where I can move?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, all residents can choose to stay living on the redeveloped estate in a new home, or to move elsewhere.

For residents who choose to stay on the redeveloped estate, the phasing plan will decide where and when the moves happen. We will work with residents to support them to move with existing neighbours if they wish. However, this is dependent on the right size home being available.  

If someone is a council tenant, and they choose to move away from St Raph’s, we will support them to find another council home in Brent if a suitable one is available.

If redevelopment is delivered, and I don’t want to move out of the property I own, what will happen?

If the community favours the redevelopment option, to deliver the masterplan we will need to buy properties belonging to all private owners and leaseholders within the agreed development area. This would be done in phases.

Ideally, we will reach an agreement with all homeowners to buy their properties from them. However, if an agreement cannot be reached with an individual homeowner within the project timeframe, or at a reasonable cost, in some cases we may apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order. This legal process allows public bodies like councils to take ownership of land where there is a strong public interest to do so.

Resident Ballot

How will a decision be made?

The two masterplans developed with you will be put to a public vote, where you will be able to vote yes or no for redevelopment. This will likely take place in 2021, once social distancing rules have been eased so that face-to-face conversations can take place. The delay will give you more time to learn about what both options – infill and redevelopment – mean for your household.

Of those residents and homeowners that vote, if the majority vote ‘yes’ for the redevelopment option, then this will be taken forward. If the majority vote ‘no’, then the infill option will be delivered.

The Council will only put affordable masterplan options forward for a ballot. The affordability of the masterplans will be kept under review by the council.

Is the council still committed to holding a ballot?

Yes. We are firmly committed to a resident-led approach, as this is the only way we can deliver the best plan for the Future St Raph’s. The reality of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities in Brent, means we have had to delay the community decision to proceed with redevelopment or infill. However, this provides extra time to learn about how both options will impact your household which we think is necessary given the social distancing measures in place.

Why does there need to be face-to-face conversations to hold a ballot?

We will produce a draft Landlord Offer for all households on St Raph’s that will set out what everyone can expect to gain from any future development. This will be different for everyone, depending on their personal circumstances and whether they are a council tenant, leaseholder, private tenant or household living in temporary accommodation.

It’s important everyone has multiple opportunities to discuss how any future development will affect their household, including by phone, virtually and face to face - which we know many residents feel more comfortable with.

Why does there have to be a ballot?

The council would need to apply to the Mayor of London for funding to help deliver the redevelopment. New rules from the Mayor mean that we must show that you support any plans that require demolition, which is why there needs to be a public vote. This means that what happens will be community-led, as the council cannot move ahead with redevelopment unless the majority of residents and homeowners want it. The Mayor sets who can vote, and the ballot will be managed by an independent body appointed by the council.

Will there still be a ballot if there is clear support for either infill or development?

Yes. Residents and homeowners will make the decision about whether they want to progress with redevelopment or not at the ballot. If residents vote no to redevelopment at the ballot, then the infill option will be progressed.

Who can vote in the ballot?

The Mayor sets the criteria for who is eligible. You can vote if you live in the agreed development area, are aged 16 or over, and are one of the following:

  • A social tenant, named as a tenant on a tenancy agreement

  • A resident leaseholder or freeholder, living in your home for at least a year

  • A private tenant, who has been on the housing register in Brent for at least a year

  • A household living in temporary accommodation.

Eligible residents are entitled to one vote per person. There is no limit to the number of eligible voters per household, provided you meet the criteria above.

What will happen to private tenants for either option, and will they be able to vote?

For the infill option, none of the existing homes would be demolished so residents who are private tenants would remain in their current homes.

For redevelopment, the council will need to develop an offer for all existing residents and homeowners, including private tenants, which it will include in the Landlord Offer.

Private tenants are eligible to vote in the ballot if they live in the agreed development area, are aged 16 or over and have been on the housing register in Brent for at least a year.

Has there been a resident ballot anywhere else in Brent?

Yes. We held a resident ballot in South Kilburn in autumn 2019, on whether to continue with plans to rebuild 1,400 council homes and provide new community facilities. 72% of residents took part in the ballot, with 84% voting in favour of the redevelopment proposal.

Infrastructure

How will infill and redevelopment affect green spaces?

Both options will create better community spaces.

For infill, this may include extending existing community facilities and refurbishing, for example, the existing retail units and public square on Lilburne Walk.

If the community favours the redevelopment option, there is a bigger opportunity to build new dedicated and flexible use community facilities for people of all ages.

How will the estate be made safer?

Both masterplan options, infill and redevelopment, will improve the safety and security on St Raph’s.

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 amount 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 will 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.

If the community favours the redevelopment option, there will be more opportunities to increase the lighting and other security measures in public spaces and around the park.

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.

If development is delivered, where would shops be built?

The design team presented initial options for both infill and redevelopment in March 2020. Each of these options showed different ways that new shops and community facilities could be included in the future St Raph’s.

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. The amount of land that will be used for new homes is very similar for both the infill and redevelopment options. 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 for both the infill and masterplan options.

Will transport routed 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, pleaseemail us