Tuesday 7 August 2012

Old Library may be retained, rest of 'consultation' just tweaking

Details of the new round of consultation on the Willesden Green Library redevelopment published today LINK show how limited any rethink is likely to be.

The Keep Willesden Green group demanded that the Council and developers Galliford Try 'stopped.listened and reflected' on the proposals with the suggestion that they go back to first principles and involve local residents and users from scratch.

Instead it appears that the housing development,  loss of the Town Square and the bookshop are still taken for granted. There is a concession over the Old Library building which goes only as far as that new early sketches will be on display and 'will show how the old library may be retained as part of the building'. These sketches will be on display throughout August for feedback and 'developed proposals will be ready in September'.

The second phase of the consultation to take place between September and October is limited to 'details like how the library space will be divided or what could go inside the old library'. Brent says stoutly, 'We know where we think each activity shold go (e.g. the library, museum etc).  So no consultation on housing, council offices, cafe, Town Square, car park, bookshop space, or the size of the library.

They have organised workshops for specific target groups, which run the risk of setting different groups against each other, rather than working out priorities through face to face discussion:
Tuesday, September 4 - Seniors
Thursday, September 6 - Small and medium enterprises
Tuesday, September 11- Community groups
Thursday, September 13 - Ethnic minority groups
Tuesday, September 18 - Teens
Thursday, September 20 - Families with young children
 Although of course many people will cover several categories so may end up attending 3 or 4 times!

The Council says it will carry out outreach in local schools and will develop details with schools in the Autumn.

The third phase is the 'Interim Strategy: October-November' and the Council say that core services will continue to be delivered at the Willesden Library Centre as well as non-core such as the markets. Unfortunately one vital 'non-core' service, the Willesden Bookshop, has already closed when the Council could have extended its lease during this period.

Reviewing this timetable it seems clear that the Council's intention is to get planning approval in December and  hand over the site to the developers by January 2013.

Meanwhile I am sure Keep Willesden Green campaigners will be considering their next moves in the light of the above.

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