Brent Council gives Willesden Green Library development plans the green light
- Credit: Archant
Controversial proposal will see building demolished and replaced with ‘cultural centre’ and 95 flats
A controversial planning application to tear down and redevelop Willesden Green Library was finally given the green light last night following months of protests and stalled applications.
The project, by Brent Council and developer Galliford Try, will see Willesden Green Library Centre, in High Road, Willesden, knocked down and rebuilt into a cultural centre while 95 flats will also be attached onto the site.
The plans were passed through the councils planning committee last night, Thursday, following a lengthy meeting- but residents have complained a decision had already been made.
During the meeting campaigners fighting against the plans spoke out about issues of parking and a reduction in public space.
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Martin Redston of campaign group Keep Willesden Green, addressed the committee and argued that the area in front of the library had been intended to be used as a public space when the library was first built and that the new development would infringe on it.
Residents also expressed concern that the new library would actually be smaller than the current one - however, the claims were refuted by council officers.
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Speaking to the Times following the meeting Mr Redston said: “If you are judge and jury in your own case you will inevitably win – in three hours there was no discussion of the actual planning.
“The only questions addressed by the committee were not searching of the planning process and the principle of whether the plans should be considered at all was non negotiable.”
The passing of the application follows a lengthy process in which an original design, submitted last year, was completely redrawn.
Residents expressed outrage at the loss of a small Victorian library at the front of the building which has been on site since 1896 meaning developers had to go back to the drawing board and came up with a new design incorporating the old building.
The plans are still subject to a bid to register the area as a Town Square by Mr Redston while Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government will also have to give the green light to the plans.
The news means that while the rebuild takes place Willesden Library will be the seventh library to close down in Brent since the decision to axe six reading rooms in October 2011.