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Interview: Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council

Mon 26th September 2016, 5:11 pm

The leader of Brent Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt, found some time in his schedule to answer some questions for Sitematch about the west London borough.

What are currently the key development opportunities in the borough?

Brent is open for business. It’s important to take a holistic approach to development and to opportunities.

On development, we are an ambitious borough – you can see that from our achievements and our plans for the future. Developments take many forms and we would welcome, and indeed seek out, developments that may be ambitious. Development to me takes a whole system approach for our community of residents and businesses, and for the guests who visit us.

The opportunities are wide and varied. We have two housing zones in Brent and we are a borough which welcomes partners who help us deliver our vision on the numerous private sector held land holdings, or on public sector land that our colleagues control. To name sites would be unfair as all have their unique qualities and all offer opportunities for the right partner.

Why should a developer invest in Brent? 

Brent is not for every developer. We’re interested in partners who share our vision, as I have said. For those who do share this they should invest because they are investing in a community that is unique, they should invest because we have excellent public transport that makes us accessible, they should invest because they will receive a fair return on their investment and they should invest because their brand reputation will be enhanced by investing in the future of our vibrant community. If you don't believe me go to the award-winning development in Kilburn and see what a partnership with Brent will deliver for the partner.

The calibre of developments in the borough is high and we provide full planning support, working closely to help partners deliver joint strategic aims. We’re proud that a number of projects in Brent have won national housing awards, RIBA awards and more.

It’s important to also add that when you invest in Brent you invest in London. Our strong partnership with Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, further enhances invest-ability in Brent. In fact, the new mayor chose Brent as his first official visit to a London borough, taking a look around our regeneration sites and seeing for himself how we’re transforming our part of the capital - we feel that’s a real achievement and recognition of our innovative work.

With Wembley Stadium, Brent has an iconic London landmark. How has this helped attracting investment to the borough? And since its completion almost 10 years ago, what has the economic impact been on the area?

Firstly, Brent is more than Wembley as everyone will know. We are proud of Wembley and it clearly helps in terms of investment. It has helped by showing what the 'art of the possible' is. On the impact the stadium has had, just look around Wembley and look around Brent. The stadium has been a catalyst for the developments that have taken place.

In addition to the stadium, the ‘can do’ attitude of Brent Council members and officers have been significant factors in the developments. Strong communities with a sense of civic pride make place, that’s why considerable investment has been made in neighbourhood renewal programmes in the borough’s most deprived areas to improve social and economic conditions, and ensure they also benefit from economic growth.

What are some of the key qualities the council looks for in its private sector development partners?

We look for the same qualities from all partners, be they public, private or from the third sector. Share our vision, come to Brent to further enhance a vibrant and unique community, be bold in your approach and we will be brave with the partner and be here for the long term.

What has been the impact of Brexit so far in terms of development appetite in the borough, and what are your expectations for this in the near future?

It’s too early in the business decision making process to assess the impact. The future? To quote Abraham Lincoln 'the best way to predict the future is to create it.’ My belief is that we in Brent have a strong sense of purpose which will bring out the best in our communities in the future. No matter what the outcome, we will create a better future and we will do this with our developer friends and partners. Come and speak to us and with a world class proposition, you will find me, as the proud leader of Brent Council, welcoming you to the greatest borough in the greatest city in the world. 

To learn more about Brent's regeneration strategy, book your meeting with the council at Sitematch London.

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