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Battle for Bridge Park begins with both sides claiming ownership to the land in Stonebridge

PUBLISHED: 09:19 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 22 July 2020

Founders and supporters of the Bridge Park Community Council could not all fit into the court hearing in 2019 as they gathered to defend the land in Stonebridge. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Founders and supporters of the Bridge Park Community Council could not all fit into the court hearing in 2019 as they gathered to defend the land in Stonebridge. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Archant

The battle for Bridge Park has kicked off in the High Court with both sides claiming ownership of the land in Stonebridge.

Lawyers for Brent Council and defendants Leonard Johnson and Stonebridge Community Trust (SCT) opened a “remote hearing”, beset by technical problems, on Tuesday, heard by Michael Green QC.

The community, led by Mr Johnson, founder of the Harlesden People’s Community Centre (HPCC), has been locked in a legal battle with Brent Council since 2017 over the sell-off of Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre.

A disused bus depot owned by London Transport was bought in 1982 when “a partnership” was formed between the council and the community.

The council is now saying it has full claim to the property whereas SCT argues it has a claim.

Responding to Brent’s counsel, Katharine Holland QC, on the purchase of the depot, Judge Green said there was “no doubt this was an HPCC project”.

Ms Holland said: “There’s no doubt that a community cooperative was going to be running and having a role.”

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But she added: “The acquisition was going to be by Brent and Brent had full freedom and were considering at that stage alternative uses and disposal.”

Defence barrister Stephen Cottle argued HPCC could be seen as a charitable entity at and that there should be ongoing restrictions around the sale and transfer of the land.

He said the community sought to buy the building to avert riots that engulfed Brixton and Toxteth in 1981. He said Brent Council bought the building but that funding came from sources including the Greater London Council (GLC) and charitable sources.

Responses from witness Marsha Henry, a Brent planning lawyer in, who was present in The Rolls Building, could not be heard by those viewing proceedings.

Former Brent leader Thomas Bryson, dialing in, said that “in 1981 money was very tight” and the council “hunted for money” from the GLC and others to get the project “up and running”.

“It was intended to be a partnership,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it on our own and they couldn’t have done it on their own.”

Noise interference meant the case was adjourned until Wednesday morning.

The case continues.


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