Tuesday 24 April 2012

Cheers as Keep Willesden Green petitioners refuse to give up

Outside Brent Town Hall yesterday evening
The public gallery

There was standing room only at Brent Town Hall last night when the Keep Willesden Green Campaign presented  their petition to the Brent Council Executive.

Miki Berenji, in a speech frequently interrupted by prolonged applause, accused the Council  of treating residents as if they were little children who didn't know what was good for them. After detailing the issues including poor consultation, loss of the old Victorian Library, public space and the the Willesden Bookshop she said that residents wanted a say in what was to be their Cultural Centre. Compared with the current library centre there was no gain for residents.

Miki said that campaigners knew that as far as the  Council is concerned it is a matter of come along, say your piece, but our minds are already made up.  Clearly the Campaign was not going to let the matter rest there.

The audience was infuriated when Cllr George Crane, lead member for Regeneration n Major Projects, said that his personal view was that the Victorian Library had no architectural merit. His concessions on the possibility of a 'bookshop space in the cafeteria' , a small increase the outdoor space, and a 'celebration of the Victorian building' within the new building were greeted with derision.

Crane said that he saw no useful purpose in stopping and reflecting (he missed out the word 'listen') and said that the planning period would give an opportunity to reflect. 

Two Liberal Democrat Councillors spoke on opposite sides of the debate. Cllr Gavin Sneddon supported the petitioners and said that the current disillusion with the Council could happen under any administration. He contrasted the fait accompli regarding Willesden  Green development with the grass roots, from first principles involvement of local people with the  Harlesden Town Plan.

He asked Ann John, as Brent Council has instigated the project, that no pressure (which is illegal) would be put on councillors on the Planning Committee to approve the developer's planning application.

Cllr Ann Hunter said that the petitioners represented only one side of local opinion and that there were other residents who were in favour of the scheme and wanted to look forward to the future.  She had been told by previous councillors for the area that the 1980s building was itself a compromise because of the strong feelings local people had over the retention of the Victorian Library.

Ann John did not take the opportunity to give the assurance requested by Cllr Sneddon.


Kay Carroll said...

Why can't Brent Council encourage a development which incorporates the old Willesden Green Library building into a new building just like the museum in Maidstone, see this link: http://www.dezeen.com/2012/04/11/maidstone-museum-east-wingby-hugh-broughton-architects/.

Jay Merrick in The Independent wrote "The new extension of Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery, designed by Hugh Broughton, is a counter-blow to the government's witless, developer-friendly assumption that places, and lives, can be transformed by blinged-up buildings marketed as world class."

Once again shame on Brent Councillors for not appreciating our rich history. What about the buildings/places we have lost already from Brent:

- the old Wembley Stadium, an iconic listed building, obliterated with not a single trace of it left;

- all the old British Empire Exhibition buildings, obliterated for horrible looking flats in the new ‘Wembley City’ crammed around the new Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena;

- The Chequers pub in Ealing Road, Wembley - a pub had stood on that site since at least 1751 - torn down a replaced with awful looking flats and shops in a development which completely dominates that stretch of Ealing Road and completely over shadows two lovely old Arts & Crafts houses in Stanley Avenue;

- Dollis Hill House – I just don’t know what to say about this – what a scandal to let a building of such historic interest fall into ruin and then just knock it down!!

- the Guinness Brewery at Park Royal designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (designer of Battersea Power Station, Bankside Power Station (which is now Tate Modern) and our iconic red telephone boxes) - a building which would have been listed and appreciated by another borough has been torn down and replaced with office blocks;

- the art deco facade of Wembley Central Station knocked down and replaced with an untidy windswept empty space;

- the two park keepers cottages in Barham Park Wembley - the park was left to the people of Wembley in the 1930's as Titus Barham was concerned about the overdevelopment in Wembley then (what would he think of it now!) - the council built two cottages in the park for the park wardens to live in but as we don’t have resident park wardens now the houses were not in use - rather than making them available for park visitors to use some way or knocking them down and returning the land on which they are built to the park the council has sold them off at auction, some would say by the back door, for just £300,000 each – a great chunk of the park sold off with no consultation with Wembley residents – how long will it be before the new owners are asking for planning permission to build flats on the site of the two houses which should still be part of Barham Park?

I could go on and on with examples but I’m sure you have far too many of your own.

The Local Don. said...

"Why can't Brent Council encourage a development which incorporates the old Willesden Green Library building into a new building..."

Why would they want to do that Kay? Whats in it for them (Brent Council)

The Local Don.