|Willesden Old Library - scheduled for demolition|
People have also asked what the Cultural Centre will contain. Again there is little detail but the Equality Impact Assessment LINK states:
At a minimum the new cultural centre will incorporate a library, extensive study space, IT provision, customer contact centre, museum, archive, archive store, entrance foyer, three creative cluster spaces (which will facilitate an array of programmed creative events), café, conference room, office space, staff toilet & shower, public toilets, data centre, hygiene areas, multi faith contemplation room, delivery and distribution area, public realm and a maximum of 8 designated car parking spaces.Following the recent High Court action there is a long section of the report devoted to the Equalities duties of councillors. The initial Impact Assessment Completion Form is brief LINK but there is documentation in the Appendices LINK
There is a useful but not very legible mapping of Willesden Green library users HERE
Talking to local residents at the Library yesterday another issue that came up several times was 'Why are we doing away with a comparatively new building?'
Several arguments are contained in the report going before the Executive.
- The building has failed to realise its potential as a truly local cultural destination and is 'essentially not fit for purpose'.
- Areas within the existing buiulding feel unsafe an this intesifies at night when small, dark areas attrract vandalism and anti social behaviour. This discourages 'people from Brent's diverse communities to explore or congregate wihin the WGLC especially after dark'.
- The site is a second tier building (in the jargon 'major customer facing offering') in the south which would complement the new Civic Centre in the north. This recognises that 'a large proportion of our high need customers reside in the south'.
- The physical condition of the WGLC is extremely poor and repairs would require an initial investment of £657,000.
- The redevelopment hs the potential to act as a catalyst for wider regeneration of the area
Some residents argued yesterday that the building had been deliberately run down and that there had been a failure of leadership in running it with enthusiasm, imagination and flair. They pointed to the recent success of an arts project in the old cafe area. Theye were against developemnt and instead wanted new management and marketing strategy.
Opinions were also expressed that the project handed too much power over to the developer and questions over whether the Council could be both a de facto partner of the developer and also make an independent decision on the developer's planning application.
A major issue that arose was the loss of study space with students scoffing at the inadequacy of the alternative provision offered in the report. Brent SOS Libraries are expected to continue to push for the reopening of the Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries at least during the rebuilding phase to provide study and lending facilities, although that option is rejected in the report.
Some passers-by and long-term residents were aghast when they realised that the locally listed old library building would be demolished in the new development and there was anger when it was realised that the Willesden Bookshop would go.Locally listed building don't have legal protection but existing Brent Council policy (LINK) states:
BE24 LOCALLY LISTED BUILDINGS
The special character of buildings on the local list will be protected and enhanced. Proposals for the demolition or unsympathetic alteration of locally listed buildings (including parts of buildings) will be discouraged unless alternative use of the building is unviable or the planning benefits for the community substantially outweigh the loss resulting from demolition.Presumably the Council will be arguing the latter case although how that stands against the preservation of the facade of the nearby Spotted Dog is a matter for conjecture. There's some interesting historical background on the area, including the library and the Spotted Dog, HERE
I would welcome comments on the issues raised by the redevelopment proposals.