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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. It is also the name of the largest electoral ward in the borough, which includes Stonebridge itself as well as the Stonebridge estate, 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 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.
Stonebridge suffers from high rates of violent crime. In 2015 it had the highest recorded gun crime of any ward in London.
Police figures for 2016-2017 included 768 incidents of violence and sexual offences and 868 incidents of antisocial behaviour; in this period police abandoned more than 41 percent of cases because no culprit was identified.
Neighbouring Harlesden witnessed a huge increase in shootings from around 1999, becoming the highest rated district nationwide by 2001. This contributed to Stonebridge's reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the UK.
In 2003, 21-year-old college student Kavian Francis-Hopwood was shot dead on the Stonebridge Park estate. In the same year 7-year-old Toni-Ann Byfield was shot dead alongside her father. In August 2005 two sisters and their mother's partner were murdered in a contract killing in Clark Court, Stonebridge,. In 2009 a young father was murdered outside a party at a Stonebridge primary school. And in 2010 former Millwall footballer Gavin Grant was one of three men found guilty of shooting dead Leon Labastide on a street in Stonebridge: Stephen Batten QC, prosecuting, said the case reflected a "law of the jungle" culture of shootings and drug dealing on the estate.
As regeneration continues, negative press coverage is inching toward the positive. Local schools are drilling teenagers in citizenship. However, crime figures remain high. Police officers say gun crime in particular remains a serious problem.
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:
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