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Old and new developments of Stonebridge Estate, 2007
|Population||16,903 (2011 Census. Ward)|
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Stonebridge is a locality in the London Borough of Brent that forms the western part of Harlesden in Northwest London, England. 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 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.
In January 1928, over 200 homes on the Brentfield Estate in Stonebridge Park were flooded. The River Brent broke its banks near the Harrow Road.
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.
Although Stonebridge is geographically adjacent to the Park Royal industrial estate, it is almost entirely cut off from it because of the Bakerloo/Watford DC/West Coast Main Line railway tracks and a large Royal Mail distribution centre.
During the 1950s the council planned a massive redevelopment covering almost 100 acres of Stonebridge. More than 2,000 units were built, mostly in high-rise blocks, the first of which opened in 1967..
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.
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, with 16 individual reports of gunshots.
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 murder rated district nationwide by 2001. This contributed to Stonebridge's reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the UK, as most perpetrators where associated or lived in the Stonebridge estate.
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. However, crime figures remain high. Police officers say gun crime in particular remains a serious problem.
On July 16 2020, a member of Harrow Road Boyz gang, Billy McCullagh, was shot dead on Windrush Road in the Stonebridge Estate as the norm of tit-for-tat shootings continues.
Stonebridge has a large black population, the highest in the London Borough of Brent. The 2011 census showed that 47.2% of the population was black, up from 45.8% in 2001. Whites formed 23.5% of the population in the 2011 census, down from 33% in 2001. Christians and Muslims form 49.9% and 28.2% of the population respectively.
London Buses serving Stonebridge are:
|18||Euston Station||Sudbury||London United|
|112||Ealing Broadway||North Finchley Bus Station||Metroline|
|206||Wembley Park||Kilburn Park||Metroline|
|224||St Raphael's Estate||Wembley Stadium||London United|
|440||Wembley Park, Fourth Way||Turnham Green Church||London United|
|611||Stonebridge Park Station||East Finchley||Metroline|
|N18||Trafalgar Square||Harrow Weald||London United|
- Brent Park
- Harlesden station
- Park Royal
- Stonebridge Park station
- St Raphael's Estate
- Church End
- South Kilburn
- "Brent Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- "The Brent Overflows". The Times. 3 January 1928.
- "BBC News Race Special, Turning away from crime". BBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- "Stonebridge". Hidden London. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- [dead link]
- "Detailed statistics for Harlesden, Metropolitan Police Service - Police.uk". www.police.uk. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Making sense of "senseless" youth violence". The Police Foundation. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Murder squad detectives are calling for people who attended a party at a Harlesden school to come forward after a man was shot dead outside in the early hours of Sunday morning". Harrowobserver.co.uk. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- Meikle, James (26 July 2010). "Footballer Gavin Grant jailed for life for gun murder". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Is this how to deal with gun crime?|26Jul03". Socialist Worker. 26 July 2003. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- "Gun crime: Notorious North London housing estate is reborn - Exclusive - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- Raffray, Nathalie. "Weapons sweep in Harlesden as police say; 'We're better than this'". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Four arrested over murder of man shot dead in northwest London". The Independent. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- "Reducing Car Use: Proposals for a Brent Cross Railway" (PDF). London Campaign for Better Transport. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2009.