Preston Community Library caught in development battle with neighbours

PUBLISHED: 14:05 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 19 September 2018

Preston Road Library demonstration

Preston Road Library demonstration

Jonathan Goldberg

A four-storey development in Wembley could secure the future of a library closed seven years ago – but neighbours say it comes at too high a price.

Preston Community Library (PCL) in Carlton Avenue East hosted a consultation on Tuesday that drew neighbours and businesses opposed to the proposed building works.

Brent Council and 5plus Architects want to build 12 “affordable” flats and keep the treasured community space on the ground floor.

But the “car-free four-storey development” allows for only four vehicles, bringing fears of more congestion outside.

Holocaust survivor Helga Wolff, who lives nearby, raised fears over noise, pollution and parking that were echoed by a number of other objectors at the meeting. She said: “I’d like everything to stay as it is. We certainly don’t want any redevelopment whatsoever. It will destroy the quiet atmosphere in the neighbourhood.”

The 95-year-old added: “Most people around here are elderly and have breathing difficulties. They have severe trouble.”

Atul Kethia, who runs car dealership Twinstar next door, said: “These roads will become congested. The development has only four parking spaces so what happens with the other cars?”

Library user Doreen Gill, of Glendale Gardens, added: “They’ve not taken into account how busy the road is. The building is also too high and will look over into people’s gardens.”

Brent closed the library along with five others in 2011 to save £1m. Campaigners lost legal action at the High Court, but resolved to keep the library in public use.

It has since provided film and quiz nights, knitting groups, yoga sessions and many classes.

Philip Bromberg, chairman of PCL, said the charity has been working with the council for the last two years. He added: “PCL has been awarded an NCIL [neighbourhood community impact levy] grant of £267,000 which will be used to pay for the fit-out of the new library, which will be leased to PCL at a peppercorn rent.

“We believe this will guarantee continuing public library provision in Preston Road for the foreseeable future.”

Brent Council project manager Tanveer Ghani said: “Transport, air quality and noise assessments will be submitted with the application we hope will be ready in 2019.”

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