Tuesday 24 January 2012

First details of proposed Willesden Green Cultural Centre

...but will this shoe box be dwarfed by bloks of flats?
Galliford Try have delegated the designing of the new Willesden Cultural Centre to a Leeds based architects firm, removing the project even further from local people and designers who know the local area well. They have released the first images of the building which will replace the current library and bookshop. No space is allocated for the bookshop.
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Architecture 519 are pleased to announce they have been selected for the Willesden Green Cultural Centre Redevelopment in Brent with Galliford Try Regeneration. 
AHMM are leading the masterplan, which incorporates a new 4,000+ sq. m. library and cultural centre, with approximately 90 residential units by Architecture 519. A compact, atrium-centred scheme with a dramatic presence on the High Road will replace the existing 1980’s library, creating a community landmark in Brent. Activating the ground floor will be a café, children’s library and ‘creative cluster’ of large spaces tied into the masterplan through a significant new public space by Gillespies Landscape. 
The team, supported by URS Scott Wilson for structure and services, expect to submit a planning application in the spring, with completion in 2014 for the entire site."
Observers at last night's Council Meeting said that the council appeared confident that the project would go ahead with planning approveal by June/July 2012 with construction beginning in September 2012.

However a strong campaign is developing of those who are opposed the the redevelopment. They are joined by others with a particular interest in preserving the old Willesden Library.  Meanwhile Cllr James Powney, lead member for libraries, has intervened on the bookshop issue before the e-petition has closed and before it has been presented to the council.  As usual he appears to have made up his mind before hearing the arguments. This is what he posted on his BLOG:
Martin Francis of Brent Green Party has started a petition about the Willesden Bookshop.  Brent Council has given the bookshop notice to quit so that it can redevelop the Willesden Library Centre.  The petition appears to be arguing that the bookshop should be included as part of the new Willesden Library centre.  Presumably, Martin wants the Council to help the bookshop to temporary premises, and then to move back 18 months later.  Would any retailer really find it attractive to have two disruptive and expensive moves in a period of less than two years? Given that any retail space in the new library centre will be much higher quality than the current provision, the rent is likely to be much higher.  Would it not be more sensible to move to premises somewhere in the immediate area?
I have lodged the petition as a local resident rather than on behalf of the Green Party. As I write it has 278 signatures. Please encourage more people to sign so that Cllr Powney is forced to listen to us.

Here is another message from a concerned local resident:

I am also very unhappy about the proposed redevelopment of Willesden Library. Proper consultation has been distinctly lacking. 

We will be losing one of the more attractive corners of Willesden - currently providing much needed light and space in what is already a narrow and crowded high street; a much loved and well used book shop; a historic Willesden landmark in the old library building and a Library Centre which already houses an art gallery, museum, lots of space which has been allowed to deteriorate rather than be fully utilised as well as a decent sized library which the the south of the borough will now need following the closure of other local libraries.

The new plans seem to be far more about housing and council office space rather than a 'cultural hub'.


Anonymous said...

Cannot see why at least the front of the existing building cannot be built into the front of this rather unimaginative new building.

This design doesn't look that much more distinctive than the 23-year-old existing main building anyway.

Donald Elliott said...

I feel very strongly that the proposed development as depicted will remove a valued outdoor space which provides a most needed central 'square' for Willesden Green. Taking the new building to the very corner of the High Road junction is an act of philistinism and short-sighted planning. Outdoor events (such as the occasional market or street theatre) at the heart of Willesden are highly desirable for civic pride and sense of community. Please re-think.

Jess Abbo said...

If ever there was an architectural proposal out of sympathy with existing surroundings, most of which are carefully omitted in the visual, this is it. Has an alien spacecraft landed in Willesden Green by mistake?

The word "carbuncle" comes to mind.