HARROW FLATS: New apartment block given go-ahead despite locals’ objections

Pinner – VIJAY SHAH via ADAM SHAW and Harrow Times

Local authorities in the north-west Greater London borough of Harrow have given assent to a new development of flats despite local residents of a busy road objecting to the project and vetoing it three times, the Harrow Times newspaper reported today.

The Northcote development, in the Pinner area’s Rickmansworth Road, will consist of eight brand-new flats in addition to an existing estate of 24 homes now at the site. The eight apartments will be housed in a single two-storey complex, and the plans were approved by Harrow’s council, the Times reports.


Pinner locals however have rallied against the proposed development, saying that there will be a loss of green spaces, as well expressing serious concerns about access issues for vehicles and the presence of extra council-issued refuse bin facilities that could attract vermin and create foul-smelling communal areas.

Harrow Council’s planning committee however rejected the residents’ objections for the third time in a row, saying that the area and Harrow in general needed more housing as its population continues to rise, a theme common to many outer London areas. Four of the council’s members spoke out against the Northcote development, but failed to sway the vote on the planning application, according to the Harrow Times. A total of 44 rejections of the proposal were counted by the council, with anti-development councillors appealing to the local government to take them into consideration.

One local resident who objected against the new flats, Majd Kilani, told the Times: “We don’t have the time and resources to keep battling these development attempts, which have caused significant stress.

‘It has taken away time and energy that would otherwise be dedicated to our families and the community.”


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“Harrow Council approves Pinner’s Northcote development” – Adam Shaw, Harrow Times/Newsquest (London & Essex) Ltd/Gannett (26 January 2019) https://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/17386271.harrow-council-approves-pinners-northcote-development/?ref=rss?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=sendible&utm_campaign=RSS


NEW STRATFORD HOUSING PROJECT: Not so much in the way of ‘affordable’

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALEX SHAW and Newham Recorder

As the city of London struggles to house its growing population amidst a housing crisis and soaring rents and house prices, a new housing project underway in the district of Stratford has come in for criticism after it was revealed that only twenty-five per cent of the available stock will be marketed as affordable, the local community newspaper Newham Recorder reported.

The Legacy Wharf complex, being designed by Bellway Homes, is being promoted as an ideal site for first-time buyers to move into an up-and-coming part of east London, only a few minutes from the centre of the city. But only around 50 of the 196 flats (apartments) planned for the site will be classed as affordable, meaning that people on average city wages (around GBP £28,000/USD $38,788) will be able to successfully purchase them.


Legacy Wharf, which is expected to be ready this spring, claims to offer a variety of apartments for different budgets, especially for first-time buyers, young professionals and families. The development, located in Stratford’s Cooks Road will also have an on-site gym, children’s play facilities and even a concierge service, but the starting price for a one-bedroom flat there will start at GBP £365,000 (USD $505,631). The Bellway development will consist of a selection of one-, two- and three-bedroom living units, with some properties being available to buy via the UK government’s Help to Buy scheme, which aims to help first-time homeowners get their foot on the housing ladder.

Bellway did not comment on the limited amount of affordable housing offered at Legacy Wharf, which is being built in one of the poorest areas of London, where rapid gentrification have caused even low-grade ex-local housing authority homes to cost several hundred thousand of pounds. However Emma Denton, the firm’s sales director designate told the Newham Recorder “Homebuyers will have a great opportunity to invest in this revamped area of Stratford at Legacy Wharf,”

Many parts of east London have changed rapidly in recent years as new apartment blocks and villages have sprung up catering to young professionals and working families with jobs in central London, alongside foreign investors looking for the next property portfolio golden egg, but developers in the city have been criticised for not providing enough flats affordable to the vast majority of Londoners, particularly those on benefits or average incomes.


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“Quarter of flats in Stratford development ‘affordable’” – Alex Shaw, Newham Recorder/Archant (8 March 2018) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/quarter-of-flats-in-stratford-development-affordable-1-5426504


“File:Granville New Homes, London.jpg” – Tim Crocker and Levitt Bernstein Archive, Wikimedia Commons (19 August 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Granville_New_Homes,_London.jpg

GRENFELL TRAGEDY: Police confirm 58 residents missing, possibly dead

London – VIJAY SHAH via Twitter

This week, a devastating fire tore through the Grenfell Tower, a residential block located in Kensington, London, causing major loss of life and homelessness in the early hours of June 14, 2017. A fire believed to have originated from an exploding fridge in a fourth-floor flat then spread rapidly through the 1970s tenement, housing mainly poorer Londoners. Aluminium cladding fixed to the outside of Grenfell Tower, which sits on the Lancaster West housing estate, and which was intended to smarten the structure’s appearance, may have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, trapping families and others behind thick smoke and burning debris.

According to the latest reports coming off of Twitter, London’s police authority, the Metropolitan Police service, believe that 58 Grenfell Tower residents are still missing, presumed deceased. The police force’s commander, Stuart Cundy, announced the figures via the social media website in the past hour. So far around 30 people are known to have died, but Cundy has warned that the figure is expected to rise, as firefighters comb through the gutted tower block.

Searches for the missing and dead were taking place yesterday, but were halted temporarily for safety reasons, but are resuming today. The Met have also promised families of the missing that “…. as soon as we can, we will locate and recover their loved ones”, according to tweeter Molly Hunter.

The government of British prime minister Theresa May has found itself under increasing pressure over its regulations governing safety provisions for the country’s, 4,000 or so tower blocks. Protests have taken place in Kensington itself and in central London demanding answers and justice for the victims.


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“Police confirm 58 missing and presumed dead in Grenfell Tower tragedy” – Twitter Moments, Twitter Inc. (17 June 2017) https://twitter.com/i/moments/876088325739757568


“File:Grenfell Tower fire (wider view).jpg” – Natalie Oxford,  Twitter, Twitter Inc. via Wikipedia (14 June 2017) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grenfell_Tower_fire_(wider_view).jpg


SMOKEY: Dog saves three people from West London apartment fire

A family’s pet dog, ironically named Smokey, has been hailed as a four-legged hero after saving three people from a fire in a block of flats in the west of London, the city’s Evening Standard newspaper reports. The fire broke out at a residential complex in the prestigious Shepherd’s Bush area and the local fire brigade have said that Smokey was partly responsible for helping save the three occupants from the flames.

Smokey, who was given his name by local firefighters, smelt smoke while with his owners at a ground floor flat in Stanlake Road. The smoke alarm in the property failed to go off as the flat began to fill with noxious fumes. The canine hero immediately awoke the two men and one women present at the property at the time, who got up only to find themselves surrounded by smoke and flames. Thanks to Smokey’s rapid actions, the occupants were able to call the emergency services who talked them over the phone as they struggled to stay alive until fire engines could reach the scene. They and their pet dog were eventually rescued and brought out of the flat with no ill-effects apart from shock and smoke inhalation. Five other people in neighbouring flats were also evacuated as a precaution, and all were treated by crews from the London Ambulance Service at the scene.

Dog and human posed by models.

It is not known what caused the fire, but pictures taken by the London Fire Brigade at the flat show a living room with heavy smoke damage. One small red armchair is seen almost completely burned to ashes, with only the front of the armrests still untouched. The smoke alarm installed in the flat, which should have gone off as the smoke took hold, did not operate as the battery was dead. Fire crews have warned London residents to ensure they check their smoke alarms.

A spokeswoman for the brigade said: “The residents of the ground floor flat – where the fire started – were lucky their dog alerted them to the fire as a smoke alarm fitted in the property had no battery in it and did not sound.

Fire engines and crews from stations in Kensington, Hammersmith and North Kensington managed to bring the blaze under control within an hour, preventing flames from spreading to other flats in the Shepherd’s Bush complex. Station Manager Nic Myatt said: “The firefighters’ hard work and quick thinking saved the lives of those they rescued.

Smokey, who appears to be a greyhound cross, also escaped from the flat without coming to harm. It is not known what reward he will receive for his act of bravery.

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“Quick-thinking family pet dog ‘Smokey’ saves three from fire at flat in Shepherd’s Bush” – Rachel Blundy, London Evening Standard/Evening Standard Limited (18 November 2014) http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/quickthinking-family-pet-dog-smokey-saves-three-from-fire-at-flat-in-shepherds-bush-9868262.html
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A LEAFLETTER’S PHOTO ALBUM: Photography special – Part 2

By Vijay Shah

Another weekend here in sunny Stratford relaxing at home….the 30th Olympiad has now officially been opened, amid much fanfare, fireworks and foreign visitors. Yesterday also was one of my good friend’s/work colleague’s last day at our office, and we celebrated with an informal get-together at a nearby pub before setting off for Trafalgar Square to watch the Opening Ceremony on a big screen. Unfortunately said big screen was a no-show, so our party ended up at the Slug & Lettuce in nearby Chinatown where surprisingly we were able to get in and get seats despite it being at the last minute and not all of us having ID. The atmosphere was electric, the screen was (reasonably) big and Union Flags were fluttering amongst the ciders and beers. It made me feel very proud to be a Londoner, to bear witness to the third time that my city has hosted the Olympics and Paralympics…and it was a wonderful sending-off  for her no doubt….All the best Prerna!!

Meanwhile here in the WordPress blogosphere, Half-Eaten Mind brings you the second part to my special photography feature run. For those Brainiacs who missed the first instalment, I am sharing some photos which I took as a sideline hobby while working as a leaflet distributor six-odd years ago. In my three months as a blogger, I have noticed keenly that photography blogs are a significant crowd-pleaser. Part 1 of the Leafletter’s Photo Album received seven likes from fellow bloggers, for which I am very, very grateful and thankful. I certainly enjoyed writing from a personal angle and sharing a little of my own creativity with all of you wonderful people out there. So with much enthusiasm and ‘joie de la jour’…..here cometh Part Two….

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

As a leaflet distributor, or junk mail peddlar, as some residents might have been wont to call me, my job took me to various neighbourhoods, ranging from quiet leafy suburbs to tower blocks and dingy council housing estates (housing projects in Yankee language). We would often cover apartment blocks as part of our remit, and we loved them, as it meant we could rid of our leaflet stock in half the time. Whereas before, we would wait for someone to leave the block before gaining entry, our boss Mr. Miller later supplied our teams with a special key that could be used to let ourselves in through the ‘fireman’s entrance’, an inbuilt feature in the buzzers of many tower blocks. Normally these keys are used by emergency services like the fire brigade to gain entry to such places without having to ring someone’s doorbell and pray that they were still at home.

One such tower I found myself in was the lofty All Saints Tower complex in Leyton, east London. Part of the Beaumont Road Estate, All Saints and its sibling edifices were approved for construction during the building boom of the 1960’s. All Saints itself was erected in 1963, and consisted of 120 separate residences spread over 21 storeys. That meant a lot of lifts and walking for me. The estate is the last high-rise estate of its kind in Leyton and the largest in the borough of Waltham Forest (background information courtesy of Wikipedia). Not surprisingly, All Saints offered anyone on the top floors unparalleled views of the surrounding hinterland, and as bored as I was with the mundane banality of life at ground level, I captured this bird’s-eye view of the area near the High Road. Here you can see the Tesco Express supermarket and its adjacent customers’ car park, plus the rows of Victorian-era housing, typical fare for much of inner London. The detail of the scenery is picked out satisfactorily by the fact that it was a day with good weather conditions, but the wire mesh on the window I took this picture out of has admittedly ruined the shot a little. Unfortunately window removal is not a skill I was blessed with, and my feet were aching from running up and down several hundred feet’s worth of corridors. Plus it smelt a little funny in there.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

This is the second photo in the Leyton series and this is a view looking out towards the rail line which services London Overground trains between Walthamstow and Leyton Midland Road stations and is part of the main network that links up areas such as Hackney and Barking. In the background you can see the other tower blocks that make up the estate. Apparently since this photo was taken, much of the estate has been demolished to regenerate and beautify the area and make it a more pleasant, community-led place to live in. I have not had much reason to visit the area again so cannot say what the new site looks like. As far as the photo-taking experience was concerned, I did remember having an almost childlike ecstasy at seeing Leyton in a way that is normally closed to everyone except pigeons and police helicopters. Unless I end up living in an apartment block myself…or can afford a light aircraft pilot’s training course, it may be a long time before I can take photos like these again.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

Here is the third photo in my Leyton collection, taken from what I reckon is the middle floors of All Saints. Thankfully it is a clearer view minus the mesh and you can definitely get a clear impression of what an average residential neighbourhood around there looks like. In my honest opinion, the highlights of this picture would have to be the general detail and clarity. Notice the different hues of red, brown, grey et cetera on the roofs of the terraced houses in the foreground and the way the trees in the background subtlely disintegrate and blur the skyline. A reasonable juxtaposition of natural and man-made, fusing together.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

Now for Photo No. 4…a similar thematic to the photo mentioned previously. The road running diagonally from top to bottom is Belmont Park Road, one of the main thoroughfares for the Beaumont Road estate.  The wider heavily marked road snaking its way through the right half of the picture is Leyton Green Road (a.k.a the B159 route) and between them is the Belmont Park school and the ‘Old Factory’ which despite its name, is an assortment of pricey flats.

(c) 2007 V. Shah


DATE: 12 March 2007

For our last photo in today’s feature, we leave Leyton and get completely lost. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of where exactly I took this picture, but it was somewhere in east London. It is a random subject matter, but one that stemmed from a childhood interest in automobiles and particularly registration plates (which we call ‘number plates’ colloquially here in the U.K.). Vehicles with American-style plates are rarely encountered on the streets of London, probably as they would fall foul of the registration rules of the DVLA/Department of Transport or whichever governmental body deals with these sorts of matters. Interestingly enough, substantial quantities of cars are imported (mainly from Japan; less so from the States) which have bumpers or spaces designed for US or Japanese plates. These plates are short and squat compared with the longer-length plates that are in use here and in continental Europe. The vehicle registration authority in Britain allow motorists with such bumpers to purchase plates that have smaller lettering squeezed into the appropriate format to fit their bumpers. It would make more sense than expecting the proud owner of a shiny new Nissan, Mitsubishi or Jujitsu (lulz) to have to shell out cash for compatible bodywork.

The ‘licence plate’ in the above pic is strange because while it looks just like an average United States registration, the numbers and letters follow the same methodology as used to be the case in the UK up until 2001. The first letter D means that this auto was originally registered between August 1986 and July 1987. Yet the plate states ‘CALIFORNIA – SANTA BARBARA’…..very confusing! I can only assume that this was a legal vanity plate. The car may have been an American-built Cadillac so the owner maybe wanted to keep the Americana theme consistent, but at the same time did not want to get pulled over by the police and fall foul of the law.

I hope you enjoyed reading/viewing and please stay tuned for part 3….for our final instalment of the Leafletter’s Photo Album, our pictorial journey will take us to the Docklands of London…that’s all I will say for now, I’m not one to hand out spoilers 🙂