A much-loved Indian restaurant will close down and be replaced with a block of flats because one of the owners is battling cancer.

The redevelopment of Mumbai Junction, which sparked anger at the loss of the “historic” Northwick Park venue, was approved by Brent Council last Wednesday night (October 18).

But the family running it has said it’s “time to move on” after one of the owners was diagnosed with cancer after previously being hit hard by Covid.

Property developers Fruition Properties will bulldoze the two-storey Indian restaurant in Watford Road to make way for a three to five-storey building, comprising 42 new homes.

Davey Parekh, whose family has owned and run the restaurant for nearly 15 years, told the council's planning committee that closing the business is “the right decision”.

He said: “My brother Bipin runs the day to day. For a number of reasons including my brother’s age, Covid – which hit him and the restaurant badly – and his cancer diagnosis, my family and I have decided it is time to move on.”

He added: “The restaurant has been in administration twice historically. Given the current economic challenges we’re faced with, we must close the restaurant. It is sad to sit here and say that but it is the right decision for our family.”

Plans show the 42 new homes will comprise a mix of 15 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, and 11 three-bedroom flats. There would also be 24 car parking spaces and a communal roof terrace at the fourth floor level. The scheme has been criticised for its lack of affordable or social housing and demolition of a “very popular” restaurant.

A statement read out on behalf of Keith Perrin of the Sudbury Court Residents Association said: “Mumbai Junction is very popular, as demonstrated by the number of visitors seven days a week. […] This is an item of social infrastructure, the definition of social infrastructure is not exclusive and this has evolved to meet the needs of a culturally diverse population.” 

Resident Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray believes the development is “totally out of character” with the surrounding area and “does not benefit the majority of residents” in the borough.

She said: “The development will not bring down the 25,000 plus homeless people. This development will not decrease spending on temporary accommodation.”

She added: “But, if we do it properly with social and affordable housing, we may well look at ways of reducing the £13 million overspend. I would urge the committee, please listen to the residents. None of the residents want this.”

Documents state that the development “cannot reasonably deliver any affordable housing” as the costs would make the project unviable. Whilst Cllr Michael Maurice said the development offers “no benefit to anyone”, committee chair Cllr Matt Kelcher had argued that it provides the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing”. In this case, that is none.

Mr Parekh felt it was “obvious” that the site should become new housing as they don’t come up often in the area and needed “now more than ever”. He said: “These plans will provide new homes for young people and families like mine.”

He added: “These young people will be able to work here, raise their families here, and be part of the community just as mine have been […] It has been an honour and a privilege to serve our local customers over this time.”

The committee voted to approve the plan by split decision, despite more than 450 people objecting to the development, including residents, councillors and a local MP. Cllr Kelcher said: “We have a chronic housing shortage and we have a housing target that the council has decided and we have committed to try and achieve.”