Monday, 30 June 2014

The Planning Inspector calls on Brent Civic Centre on July 22nd

The closure of half of Brent's libraries continue to reverberate throughout the borough. After the controversial Kensal Rise planning committee deferral and the revised Cricklewood plans, we have a Planning Inspectorate hearing at the Civic Centre on July 22nd into the Barham Park complex of buildings which includes the closed down Barham library.

 On their website Friends of Barham Library write:

A Planning Inspector will hold “informal sessions” to consider Brent Council's Appeal against Refusal of their planning application on Tuesday 22 July at the Civic Centre Empire Way starting at 10a.m.

Brent Council submitted a planning application to change the use of the closed Library space and other parts of the building away from general ‘community uses’. they did so to enable ACAVA to convert most of the building to 29 artist studios for rent.

Friends of Barham Library and others opposed this. The Planning application was REFUSED by the Planning Committee by 6 votes to 1 in November 2013.

Despite this clear decision the Labour Councillors running Brent decided to use taxpayers money to Appeal against the decision of the Council’s own Planning Committee. The Appeal will be decided by an independent Planning Inspector and this is why they are holding these informal session.

Friends of Barham Library will make representations to the Planning Inspector and continue to oppose the Appeal as the consequence is the effective taking away of the buildings in Barham Park away from local people.

The actions of Brent Council are a direct contradiction with the agreement of 22 October 1936 when Titus Barham gifted his home to the people of Wembley when he expressed his wish as follows:
“The settlor is desirous that (his home and gardens) shall be preserved for and dedicated to the recreation of the public”
In our view Brent Council should honour this wish.


Anonymous said...

It looks as though the - officer-led? - Library Transformation Project might turn out to be the most politically inept, top-down decision Brent's previous executive made. As a speaker made clear at the recent KRL planning committee meeting, not even FKRL forgive the council for the closure of the Mark Twain library, effectively another historic gift to Brent.

As regards the £1million savings the LTP was intended to achieve - how many senior officers of the council receive six-figure salaries, and how much could be saved by reducing those to a respectable figure? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Who needs satire when confronted with the fall-out from the LTP and its closure of six libraries, including Barham, whose future is now to be discussed in the very Civic Centre for which the libraries were sacrificed?

Anonymous said...

The key issue here is the protection of community facilities for their continued use by Brent's diverse community. That is what Brent's core planning policy CP23 exists to do, and that is why Brent's Planning Committee upheld that policy in November 2013, and rejected an application which wished to change the use of the former library at Barham Park from community use to business use.

The Planning Committee's decision was the right one, supported by the evidence, except for the misleading evidence put forward (anonymously) on behalf of the Barham Park Trust, which is run by Senior Brent Council Officers supposedly under the supervision of the Barham Park Trust Committee (five members of Brent's ruling Executive / Cabinet). For reasons which I can only speculate over, and have never been explained, the Barham Park Trust has appealed against the cross-party decision of Brent's own Planning Committee, wasting thousands of pounds which could have been spent on amenities at Barham Park, and keeping the buildings there out of use, when they could, by now, be fulfilling their proper purpose as community facilities.

The Planning Inspector's appeal hearing at the Civic Centre on 22 July (starting at 10am) is about more than just whether the Friends of Barham Library will get the chance to run their volunteer library from the former library building. It is about saving existing community facilities for use by local people, rather than allowing them to be disposed of to outside businesses or organisations by Council Officers (with the support of some of our leading Councillors) just to suit the corporate convenience of "the Council".

I hope that if you have an interest in Barham Park, or about the issue of local libraries and other community facilities more generally, you will come along to the informal planning appeal hearing on 22 July if you can, to support those who are standing up for local community facilities and what is good about Brent's planning system.

Philip Grant.