Thursday 21 September 2023

The Barham Park Trust – two important questions that still need answers!

 Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity


On 4 September, ahead of the Barham Park Trust Committee meeting the following day, Martin published (with my permission) a copy of an Open Letter I had sent to Brent’s Chief Executive and the members of the Committee. I will ask Martin to attach the letter again, below.


Ground floor plan for the “Silver”, preferred option, redevelopment of the Barham Park buildings.


The Trust had already spent £25,000 of Brent Council money on a feasibility study, described as a Strategic Property Review. This was basically a plan to redevelop the Barham Park buildings, estimated to cost £3.2m, to generate more income for the Trust. It would do this by creating offices (in blue), shops (pink), a café (orange, where the present Barham Community Library is located) and two community spaces (light green, but which would be expected to pay commercial rents). The first floor plan showed all commercial business uses.


My Open Letter had raised two fundamental questions, which Council Officers and Trust Committee members did not appear to have asked themselves. If the answer to either of those questions was “No”, then any expenditure on this project (which the Trust still claims is ‘hypothetical’) would be a waste of money, because it could never happen.


Although Cllr. Muhammed Butt, the Chair of the Trust Committee, had acknowledged receipt of my Open Letter, I’ve received no answer to the questions, and there is no evidence that they have even been considered. With another meeting of the Barham Park Trust Committee scheduled for Tuesday 26 September, I sent this email to Kim Wright, Brent’s Chief Executive, this morning (Thursday 21 September):-


‘Barham Park Trust Committee on 26 September - Fundamental Questions to which answers are still needed


This is an open email


Dear Ms Wright,


I am addressing this email to you, as you are the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Brent, which is the Sole Trustee of the Barham Park Trust.


I'm attaching again a copy of an open letter which I sent to you, and the members of the Barham Park Trust Committee, on 4 September. I realise that time was very short to answer the two questions my letter raised, before the Trust Committee meeting on 5 September, and they were not mentioned or answered at that meeting. ( And they have not been answered since then.)


These two questions are still fundamental ones, which need to be answered, and the answers considered, before the Trust, or Brent Council, spend any more money on the Strategic Property Review. 


1. Would it be lawful for the Trust to carry out the proposed redevelopment? 


2. Would the proposed redevelopment comply with Brent’s Local Plan? 


The 5 September meeting resolved to allow the Director for Environment and Leisure Services in consultation with the Chair of the Trust Committee to spend more money, without considering these key points. If the answer to either, or both, of these questions is "No", spending more money on this "hypothetical" project would be a reckless waste of Council and/or Barham Park Trust funds.


These two questions need urgent consideration, and I would urge you to arrange for the relevant Council Officers to consider them, honestly, and present reports, and any recommendations, on them to the Barham Park Trust Committee meeting on 26 September. 2023.


I realise that these questions are not on the agenda for the meeting, but I am sure you can arrange with the Head of Executive and Member Services (I'm afraid that I don't know who she is now) to include them under item 7, Any Other Urgent Business. The urgency is to avoid the risk of unnecessary and wasted expenditure.


I would hope that the Committee Reports on these two questions can be published, with the agenda on the Council's website, by Monday afternoon, 25 September. Thank you. Best wishes,


Philip Grant.’



Paul Lorber said...

Thank You Philip for writing your letter and for pursuing the issue.

Any independent Trustees of Barham Park Trust would have asked the same questions.

As the letter says Barham Community Library which has been providing services to the local community from the Barham Park buildings since 2016 (and in other Wembley locations since 2012) would be kicked out under the Plans presented to the Barham Park Trust Meeting on 5 September.

This is why, Francis Henry who has been involved with Friends of Barham Library (operators of Barham Community Library) since 2011 went to the Barham Park Trust Meeting on 5th to protest and ask similar questions.

He was stopped from speaking by the Chair of the Trust and the Leader of Brent Council.

None of the community tenants of the Barham Park buildings who provide services to local people were either informed or consulted about the plans to kick us all out.

The Architects proposals require vacant possession and the exclusive use of the car park in front of the children play area. The idea is to replace 'community' uses with 'commercial' ones.

It is hardly surprising that Francis Henry and our team mobilised support for our Community Library and the other tenants in opposition to these ill thought out plans.

This is not the first time that the Council Trustees of the Barham Park Trust spent a large sum of money on their so called "Vision for Barham Park".

There was a similar waste of money on a "Vision" produced in 2013. One of the ideas it recommended was the building of a large pond in the Park near the railway line with a viewing platform. Where is it?

There is no pond, there is no viewing platform and more importantly the repairs to the Barham Park paths and walls also recommended in that "Vision" were never carried out. The consultants are happy - they got paid for a report that is collecting dust in a Council draw somewhere.

Francis Henry and the rest of us have invested a lot of our time to make Barham Community Library a success for our local community. We are all volunteers giving up our time to provide a service for the recreation of local people because we care about Barham Park and the Titus Barham legacy.

We have built Barham Community Library into a Hub of local activities. We run a library offering donated books, story telling & rhyme for the under 5, Chess, Yoga and Pilates sessions, space for a Knitting group, Arts Group, Dementia Support group, a Muslim prayer groups, affordable space to Friends of the Earth, a Tamil School and for other small organisations. We laid on Theatre Performances, History Talks and NHS advice sessions and much more. We have donated computers and books to go to places to help people in Africa and Asia.

The small Pond in the Park was repaired because we raised the money for the work. We suggested the upgrading of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Garden and then supported the bid for funding. The bid would have failed without our support.

Of course we will not stand idly by when all this good work is put at risk and our survival is at stake.

This fight is about the future of Barham Park and a fantastic asset which above all belongs to OUR Community.

If this has anything to do with 'politics' it is only so because the decision to consider closing our Library and kicking us out (and others) is being made by elected representatives of Brent Council who have not bothered to either inform, consult the tenants or local people as a whole.

We are receiving lots of support from local people and local organisations appalled by how the Leadership of Brent Council is behaving.

THANK YOU for all your support.

We welcome support from everyone who agrees that Barham Park must be protected from commercial over development and preserved as a Public Open Space for the recreation of the Public.

Add you support by email to:

If you agree with us please share this message with your contacts.

Thank You again

All the best


Anonymous said...

The Green space on the ground floor is occupied by:

1. Barham Veterans Club who have been in occupation since 1946.

2. An Nepalese Ex Gurkha organisation whose lease expires next year.

Both groups carry out community activities and provide social value. Neither could afford to pay a commercial rent.

Will the Council charge commercial rents to all organisations across Brent - or are they discriminating just against the community groups using Barham Park?

Anonymous said...

Butt and co live in B~ent

Anonymous said...

As a user of Barham Park I support this:

1. Keep the Covenant and NO to more house building in Barham Park

2. NO to commercial development of the existing community buildings

Anonymous said...

Spot on