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Stonebridge is an area of northwest London, England in the London Borough of Brent, and forms the western part of Harlesden and the southern part of Neasden. It is also the name of the largest electoral ward in the borough, which includes Stonebridge itself as well as Park Royal, Brent Park and the St Raphael's Estate. It is the most populated ward in Brent with a population over 17,000 with the majority of Afro-Caribbean heritage.
The area was named after a stone bridge built (built in the later 17th century, when most bridges were of wood) over the River Brent to the north.
The exclusive Craven Park Estate of large houses was built in the 1860s and later, roughly at the same time as the Midland Railway constructed the Dudding Hill Line (now a freight line), which gave its new residents access to central London. However, the passenger service on the line closed for a second and final time in 1902, but only after a sustained protest campaign by local people.
Although other high-quality housing had grown up around the now-closed nearby Harlesden (Midland) railway station, the area failed to consolidate as an up-market suburb, because of the general expansion of London, increasing industry, and the building of low-quality, cheap housing, in the late nineteenth century. Sub-division of many of the large houses was carried out and Stonebridge became a low-income area, which continued after high-rise comprehensive redevelopment, mostly built in a single architectural style and called the 'Stonebridge Estate', in the 1960s and 1970s.
Some parts of Stonebridge have always been in private ownership, and not been part of the Stonebridge Estate.
Some improvements in the street scene happened in the early 1990s, as a result of the 'Harlesden City Challenge' award of government money to the area, which was by now regarded as one of the most troubled parts of London. In April 1994, The Independent newspaper highlighted an unemployment rate of around 25% (compared to a national average of around 10% at the time), as well as widespread drug abuse, burglaries and violence.
Most improvements, however, came after 2000, when comprehensive redevelopment of the 1960s and 1970s housing started. This is mainly complete by 2010, although some empty high-rise buildings were still being demolished.
A traditional street layout has been introduced, largely of two- and three-storey houses, often with four-story flats around street junctions.
The Stonebridge Estate has been redeveloped by Stonebridge Housing Action Trust, set up in 1994 under the Housing Act 1988, and with the aim
|“||To transform the 1,775 home Stonebridge Estate by providing innovative solutions to the problems of social and economic deprivation faced by local residents.||”|
It responded with various training and leisure initiatives, and modern, low-rise houses with some four-storey blocks of flats, mainly on street corners to give variety to the street scene.
|“||exemplary approach to public participation.||”|
The Housing Action Trust was dissolved in 2007, and housing is now a mixture of housing association ownership (Hillside Housing Trust, part of the Hyde Group) and reversion to the London Borough of Brent. Tenants were given a choice about which ownership they preferred.
New development on Hillside, part of the A404 Harrow Road through the area, includes private ownership of flats above offices, and a health centre. Redevelopment has gone hand-in-hand with training and sports initiatives for local people.
A tree preservation order has been adopted by Brent Council on Winchelsea Road nearby, to protect the street scene, forcing new buildings to be set back from the road. The "exemplary approach to public participation" award quoted above may well have been justified regarding estate residents, but there were local media claims in 2007 that it was not true regarding neighbours, as evidenced by Brent Council's willingness to protect the Winchelsea Road trees.
The Stonebridge Estate had historically been known for its high crime rate. Neighbouring Harlesden witnessed a huge increase in shootings and gun crime starting 1999, and became the highest rated in the country by 2001.
A contract killing of two sisters and their mother's partner in Clark Court, Stonebridge, occurred in August 2005, as well the murder of a young father in 2009 outside a local party at a Stonebridge primary school.
In 2010 former Millwall footballer Gavin Grant was found guilty of shooting and murdering Leon Labastide. Stephen Batten QC, prosecuting, said the case was linked to shootings and drug dealing on the Stonebridge Park Estate.
In 2015 Stonebridge had more guncrime then any other ward in London, despite decreasing over the last decade.
Stonebridge has a large black population. The 1991 census showed that 41.9% of the population was black, the highest in Brent. This increased to 49.1% in 2001. The black groups are diverse, with Caribbeans forming 22.1%, Africans 19.9%, and 7.1% from other black groups as of 2001. Whites formed 33%.
London Buses serving Stonebridge are:
||Wembley||Brent Park / St Raphael's Estate / Neasden||Willesden|
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- "Gun crime: Notorious North London housing estate is reborn - Exclusive - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
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- "Reducing Car Use: Proposals for a Brent Cross Railway" (PDF). London Campaign for Better Transport. 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2009.