Campaigners prepare for battle as Kensal Rise Library is placed on the market again
- Credit: Archant
Residents in Kensal Rise will have a fight on their hands if the community space given to its former library is reduced under new ownership.
Andrew Gillick, the owner of the former Kensal Rise Library in Bathurst Gardens, has put the property back on the market after failing to sell it at public auction in December.
He has asked Knight Frank, an estate agent and global property consultancy, to market the library building, seeking offers in excess of £1.2 million, the asking price it failed to achieve at auction.
As an inducement to buyers the firm are claiming on their website that: “Subject to obtaining the necessary permission, there is an opportunity to reduce the size of the D1 space, to secure planning for an additional residential apartment.”
Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL), a group of residents who fought to save the reading room from closing, had the building listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in 2012, before it was sold by its owners All Souls College to Mr Gillick.
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When he announced the building would be put up for sale it triggered a six month moratorium during which the site cannot be ‘disposed of’, unless a community group wishes to buy it. This expires in May.
Margaret Bailey, chair of FKRL, said it would be an immensely unpopular decision.
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She added: “This attempt to reduce the amount of community space is indicative of the disregard that the current owner has for the community.
“Do they think that this community, after fighting for over four years for the space for a library will accept this further theft of the community’s assets? Any new owner would be advised to work with the community, not against it.”
Brent Council would need to reverse its previous planning decision to allow the D1 space for a reduction to take place.
Cllr Margaret McLennan, Brent Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said: “An applicant could, if they wanted to, apply to vary the current planning permission, or submit a fresh application, which the council would then consider the merits of.
“However, it is important to note that a key factor the council would consider, would be the extent to which a different proposal to the one already agreed, was considered to meet the needs of the local community.”
Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council’s lead member for stronger communities, said: “I have been contacted by the FKRL with the information that a new owner may try to reduce the amount of community space in the Kensal Rise Library building. FKRL have said they would oppose any application to do this.
“While any application must be considered by planning officers, myself and other local councillors would be against any reduction of the space and would be supporting FKRL and the local community”.A spokesperson for Knight Frank said: “Knight Frank is no longer involved in the sale of this property.”
Andrew Gillick did not respond to our email.