Brent Council will spend around £2 million on a town hall makeover which will include creating a more “engaging” and accessible staircase and adding “better room acoustics”. 

The local authority wants to make changes to the public areas of the Civic Centre, in Engineers Way, Wembley Park, which cost £90 million when it opened ten years ago.

Works include changing the main entrance, expanding the libraries, creating more private spaces, replacing the spiral staircase, and addressing acoustic issues.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday (February 6), Cllr Eleanor Southwood, who is responsible for jobs, economy and citizen experience, said: “At the time it was a state-of-the-art building, and in many ways it still is. What we also know is that the look and feel of the building needs to evolve in line with what our customers need from it.”

She added: “We’ve seen changes over the past few years in both who visits the Civic Centre and what people need when they come here.”

The existing staircase is said to have an “accessibility problem”. A council document says: “They can be difficult to navigate and in general most people choose to avoid taking them and take the lift instead. To improve wellness, we propose the installation of a staircase that is engaging for users.”

Integrated seating would be installed under plans to “attract users” to the stairs and avoid the lift, while “feature walls” will be used to draw people up towards the library.

Cllr Southwood said: “We also noticed that for disabled people, for people who might be feeling vulnerable or experiencing a level of distress, the acoustics downstairs is really challenging.”

She added: “As a blind person myself, I find it incredibly challenging and it’s very difficult to orientate. I think that causes people quite a lot of challenges.”

There will also be more confidential spaces made available for private meetings and for people coming to the centre in distress.

Cllr Southwood said: “It’s not always a dignified experience, it’s all very open, it’s all very public.

She added: “We want to make sure the building is arranged in such a way to provide dignity for those people and ensure they feel supported and welcomed.”

The £1.96 million plans were given the green light by the cabinet at a meeting on Monday (February 6) and are expected to be completed in December of this year.

In the same meeting, the cabinet agreed budget proposals which means the average ‘Band D’ resident faces paying an extra £100 in council tax from April. The final budget is due to be agreed upon by the full council on February 23.

Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt said: “After ten years, it’s good that we are taking stock, things have changed a lot in the last ten years. I think it’s quite right and appropriate that we continue to ensure that the building continues to function as a building that delivers for residents.”

He added: “Some of the changes that we are proposing will make it a lot easier for some of our residents."

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