Saturday 17 August 2019

Crunch day for Preston Community Library at Planning Committee on Wednesday 21st August

Ground floor plan showing flat and accommodation entrance and library space
Frontage from Carlton Avenue East
Preston Community Library is at the centre of a planning decision to be made by Brent Planning Committee on Wednesday August 21st LINK. The community library emerged from a fierce campaign against closure and campaigners decided to run a volunteer library to safeguard the site and service until a council run service was reinstated. Recently the library was commended in the Bookseller's Library of the Year Award, the first volunteer library to receive such a commendation.

Campaigners won the status of Asset of Community Value (ACV) for the library and its retention is guaranteed in Brent Council's redevelopment proposal that includes provision of a new building with 12 affordable flats on the site as well as a smaller library space.

Supporters of the library have varying views on the proposal with some supporting the development as a way of ensuring the survival of the library and the replacement of a flimsy building which is not fit for modern purposes. They accept that the  smaller floorspace will be more flexible and adaptable than the current classroom layout. Others oppose the development because the library provision will be smaller than the current floorspace and they wish the library to continue as it is - often without any redevelopment to provide housing.

There are 67 objections in all including that from the South Kenton and Preston Park Residents Association.  Ground include the height and density of the proposed building, its failure to fit in with the local 'metroplitan style' semi-detached houses, traffic impact, overlooking of nearby gardens, lack of play-space for children and danger of surface flooding. Neighbouring Twinstar Car Sales oppose the development partly due to it overlooking their premises but also because it limits their own redevelopment proposals. An earlier submission by them was turned down.

Councillor Kennelly in hs submission recognised the benefits of re-providing the library facility to allow its continued operation in the long term, but highlighted concerns regarding the impact of the proposal upon the privacy of the properties on Longfield Avenue and the need to remove windows/balconies facing onto these properties, that the design of the building is not in keeping with the character of the area and could set a precedent. 

I would expect Cllr Michael Maurice, who is a member of the Planning Committee, to recuse himself from this agenda item as he has expressed strong views on the proposal.

Three supportive comments claimed that the proposal will provide much needed affordable housing within the borough in a decent standard of accommodation, that the site is in a sustainable location close to local amenities, transport links and schools and the proposal will allow the long term operation of the library to take place on the site in a modernised building 

As shown in the plan above the library space will be provided as a shell at this stage and Preston Library will fit it out themselves using the £268,000 they were granted from Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy that was conditional on the redevelopment going ahead. LINK

Below I have reproduced three views from the Council Planning Portal to illustrate the issues:


Since this development was first proposed in 2010, I have read and reviewed the many ideas and suggestions from Brent Council. Previous proposals failed to provide adequate provision for a Library or community space. This space has always been and remains an integral part of our community in Preston Ward. Since 2016, I have seen a more engaged approach from Brent Council and a willingness to listen to the community. Although these plans require further alterations, the basic provision for a sustainable community library in the long term is the most important factor in my decision to support this development as a resident and councillor.

The space available to the community will be maintained and modernised. It will allow the Preston Community Library and Hub to build upon their hard work and success by granting long term security both financially and structurally. The current building is approaching the end of its natural life and will require substantial work to maintain the current standards. By supporting this proposal, I believe that the long term future of Preston Community Library and Hub will be secured.

However, I am concerned that the current proposals do not meet the necessary safety concerns for the development to proceed in its current format. Firstly, at every public meeting local residents have expressed their concerns over privacy and child safety. The proposals have continuously failed to meet these concerns. To help protect residents, I propose that all balconies are removed from the final design and no windows overlook the residents on Longfield Avenue. The safety and protection of vulnerable residents should be the first priority for the Planning Committee.

Secondly, the design of the building does not keep with the local architecture. This community has a traditional metropolitan look, which these proposals do not reflect. I am concerned that this will open the floodgates to applications that do not reflect the traditional beauty of the local area. Therefore to maintain the high standards in the local area, these proposals should be reviewed once again.

Finally, I do not believe that adequate planning or consultation has been completed in regards to the impact of increased traffic and reduced pedestrian access whilst work is being completed. I would strongly question any survey that has been completed by the council and ask why they have asked for such little public engagement on this issue. It is my belief that the current proposals will hurt local business and impact upon the lives of both elderly and vulnerable resident. It will lead to an increase in pollution and congestion. The lungs of young residents are most affected by the fumes from parked traffic, I implore the Planning Committee to ask Brent Council to think again about these proposals.

I want to make very clear that my support for this project hinges upon the guarantee of the long term future of the Community Library and Hub. Should the Committee or Brent Council attempt to reverse these plans and commitments that have been made to the community, I would be unable to continue with my support.


I strongly support this development, because it will provide a new and better laid out and equipped library, rather than it having to make do and mend in a building that has seen better days. I agree with an earlier comment that the library is an important resource for the community which allows people a safe creative environment to interact and encourages diversity, and that it has a positive function in social, health and economic terms.

I also, unlike most of the people opposing the development, positively welcome the development of affordable housing, particularly at a time when across London around 80% of new market housing is affordable to only 20% of working households and there is marked reluctance by private landlords to let to households claiming Housing Benefit.

Brent Council's housing strategy acknowledges that the opportunities for large-scale new development in Brent are constrained by land availability and costs, so smaller developments must play their part in helping to provide homes for those who don't have them or are poorly and insecurely housed.

We in this community should welcome this opportunity to increase the affordable rented housing stock. Too many of the comments opposing the development simply smack of nimybism.


We wish to make you aware of a number of strong objection that we have with regards to the proposed development of  Preston Community Library. As an immediate neighbour to the site of the proposed development, we are of the view that the proposed development will have a serious impact on our standard of Living. Our specific objections are as follows.

1 Detrimental impact upon residential amenities.

We believe that the proposed development is a direct contravention of the policies, it does not respect local context and street pattern or in particular, the scale and proportion of surrounding buildings and would be entirely out of the character of the area, The proposed Development is 4 storey building and is much higher than neighbouring property. The proposed dwelling incorporates an external balcony at front and rear of development unlike any other neighbouring property, so the scale and design of the development will be entirely out of keeping.

The proposal would demonstrably harm the amenities enjoyed by local residents, in particular safe and available on-road parking (see point 6), valuable green space (see point 4), privacy ( see Point 5) and the right to enjoy a quiet and safe residential environment.

2 Need To avoid town cramming

We believe that the proposed development is a direct contravention of the policies. The proposed dwelling would significantly alter the fabric of the area to serious cramming in what is a low density road, The proposed dwelling have very small garden, but the nature and orientation of the plot means that the garden would actually be very small for a four-story dwelling, particularly compared with the large plots typically enjoyed by the surrounding properties. The proposal allows very little space for landscaping and we believe that it would lead to gross over-development of the site. The proposed development would not result in a benefit in environmental and landscape term, to the contrary it would lead to the loss of valuable green space.

3 Communal Play Space Policy S4 (Mayor of London)

We believe there is no Communal Play space for children and Young people in accordance with the requirement of Policy S4 Play and informal recreation as per Mayor of London Plan (Minimum for 10 children)

4 Protection of valuable open space under TPO

We have grave concerns about the adverse effect the proposed development would have on large tree will be removed this will affect wildlife haven for many birds and valuable contribution to the street scene and area and are an amenity for local residents.

5. Loss of privacy and overlooking

The proposed site of development and scale that the primary amenity area of our garden, resulting in a serious invasion of our privacy.

We believe that the proposed development is a direct contravention of policy of the District Wide Local Plan. The design of the proposed development dose not affords adequate privacy for the occupants of the building or of adjacent residential properties. Particularly, with regard to their right to the quite enjoyment of garden amenities. We would urge you to consider the responsibilities of the council under the Human Right Act in particular Protocol 1, Article 1 which states that a person has the right to peaceful enjoyment of all their possessions which includes the home and other land. We believe that the proposed development would have a dominating impact on us and our right to the quite enjoyment of our property. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act stats that person has the substantive right to respect for their private and family life.

6. Inadequate Parking and Access.

We believe that the proposed development does not provide sufficient parking space to meet these requirement ( As specified in transport report this kind of development require 14 space for flat resident plus about 5 space for library users plus disable space for both library user and flat resident) in addition to this , there is already intense on street parking pressure on the road on Carlton Avenue East, Longfield avenue, Fernleigh Court, and we believe the proposed additional parking provision will damage both highway safety and residential amenity.
Also proposed development showing hoarding taking public footpath and parking bay outside library and will create blind spot junction and will increased on road safety and accident.

7. Our other objection are listed below.

1) Nuisance and annoyance obstruction of the view
2) Twinstar similar Development been refused by Brent council reference 08/3173
3) Consultation meeting 76% Neighbours and library user object the development proposal
4) We believe proposed Development will create overshadowing in our property

We would be grateful if the council would take our objection into consideration when deciding this application. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with a representative of planning department to illustrate our objections at first hand.

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