Carlton and Granville: Campaigners confront Brent Council over plan to replace community centres with homes and ‘hub’
- Credit: Archant
Brent Council has said all 18 homes proposed for the site of two much loved community centres will be council housing – but campaigners are still concerned by proposals to replace the community space with a “social enterprise hub”.
Users and supporters of the groups that use the Carlton and Granville centres in Carlton Vale packed into a council scrutiny meeting at the Civic Centre last night.
After hearing a response by Brent Council's regeneration head Cllr Shama Tatler to questions by the community and councillors, service users shouted that the council was "killing the community" and said the centre was "saving lives".
During the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on Thursday night, the council confirmed there would be fewer housing units than previously proposed, and that they would be of a larger size than those in earlier plans.
Originally Brent had its eye on building 23 homes, but this has been dropped. The majority of houses set to be built there, if it goes ahead, are now three- and four-bedroom homes. The original decision was approved on March 11.
The council has pointed to the fact there are more than 1,400 households in either temporary accommodation or inappropriate social homes in South Kilburn that "desperately need new, affordable council homes that are the right size for them".
But campaigners also fear community groups who use the Carlton and Granville Centres will not have an alternate venue, and the services they provide will be lost.
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In a statement following the meeting, the council insisted: "We are committed to re-providing improved community space that meets the needs of the wide range of different users of the buildings.
"There will be a range of rooms and spaces in the new development that cater to this mix of uses, including a fit-for-purpose new nursery building, family hub and two community halls with kitchen facilities."
In a deputation, Abid Arai of Rumi's Cave said the council hadn't demonstrated how older residents' needs would be addressed, and that the enterprise hub would be unsuitable for them.
He said: "The South Kilburn area profile shows that employment rates are higher for those between 25 and 49, but lower for older residents.
"The application does not demonstrate that tests have been carried out to justify why the enterprise hub is required and how older residents' needs have been addressed."
Mr Arai added that socio-economic profile data for the area shows South Kilburn has a higher number of single-parent households compared with the wider borough.
In response, Cllr Tatler said: "The children's centre will become a family hub.
"This is key to expanding the remit of the children's centre, so we are looking at the whole family and how we can support them across Brent."
She said construction will feature as much "modern" building materials and practices as possible to avoid noise.
One attendee, Peter Denton, told this newspaper: "It's a total facility for the whole community. It is being treated like a pawn on a chessboard."
Campaigner Leslie Barson, who founded Granville Community Kitchen (GCK) and also helps run the Otherwise Club which provides support to home-schooled children, said: "We won't be able to do any of this if the building goes. It's so important."
The Carlton Centre is currently listed as an asset of community value (ACV), a status that was awarded in 2017.
The groups hoping to save the community space are considering whether to bid for the Granville Centre to be given the same status.
Rumi's Cave has operated in the Carlton Centre since 2018. It offers advice sessions, feeds the homeless and also operates a youth club and educational facilities.
It will be lost if the plans go ahead. The centre is used by 2,000 people a week and receives no funding from Brent Council.
After the meeting, Sheikh Babikir said: "There is nothing else like this project.
"We do social work, we provide advice on finance, government matters, spiritual guidance.
"We have a music studio and recording studio to help get kids off the street. There won't be room for us in the new development."
Ms Barson of GCK also added there was already a housing development set to be built nearby, and questioned the need for further homes to be built.
Campaigners expect that a planning application will go before the committee later this year.