Friday 24 August 2012

Northern jaws drop at sight of Civic Centre

This morning I  was asked by a couple of northerners down for tomorrow's rugby challenge final about the strange building arising opposite the Wembley Arena and the Stadium. They were staggered when they heard it was the council's Civic Centre and cost £100m. They thought we were all mad when I said the same council had closed down half our libraries.

Never mind, Cllr Powney still berates Brent Green Party  for opposing a fantastic green building. If the council erected a marble Stalinist Palace of Culture in his honour at a cost of £250m he would still expect us to support it if it had a grass roof!

Anyway make up your own minds. For my friends from the south who may not yet have seen it here are some pictures taken today. Decide for yourself if this is just a touch grandiose...


Anonymous said...

So just to be clear - as a Green candidate you oppose the building of the greenest public building in the UK that saves Brent money as it allows them to sell off and move out of lots of other buildings and will come at zero cost to the council tax payer?

Martin Francis said...

For the record I am not currently a Green Party candidate.

I question the size, scale and expense of the building as well as the prime site - hence 'grandiose'. The money saved according to the council itself will only recoup the £100m cost after 25 years. Will Brent Council exist by then? Few of the other buildings actually belonged to Brent but were on leases. The Town Hall (correct me if I am wrong) is expected to raise £20m. Other financial aspects are shrouded in secrecy. As for having a public library on a site which will be inaccessible to locals due to event crowds many times a year - well.

Anonymous said...

(Different Anon.)

It only becomes a "prime site" if the statium area achieves momentum - and the civic centre is part of trying to achieve that.

A 25-year payback (if that is so) seems reasonable - the last building was seventy years old.

They have said that income from property sales, not the surrender of leases, is in the equation. That is not to say it will all definitely turn out okay, since property crashes can get worse.

Martin Francis said...

I am not sure how the Civic Centre will add to the momentum - let's wait and see. There are questions over the development with Quintain running into difficulty over the last few years: excessive borrowing and a plummeting share price. Shareholder concern brought about a change in management earlier this year and they have moved to sell off property including Plaza Hotel, the new Hilton Hotel and the student accommodation. Family housing has been put on the back-burner with a concentration on more lucrative student housing - a 600 bedder is due to open in the autumn and a total of c2,500 beds are planned.

The LDO (London Design Outlet) has attracted some big names but the jury is out on whether people within the M25 ring will travel there to shop.