Decision over the future of Kensal Rise Library is deferred
- Credit: Archant
Controversial plans to redevelop an axed library building has been deferred following a dramatic exchange into the significance of a police investigation into fraud on the previous application.
The fate of Kensal Rise Library, in Bathurst Gardens, remains in the balance after planning chiefs voted to push back decision on the to the next committee meeting on July 16 pending legal advise on the importance of ongoing probe.
Councillors Sarah Marquis, Amer Agha and Orleen Hylton, who represent the Barnhill, Welsh Harp and Tokyngton wards respectively, voted in favour of a deferral, Cllr Suresh Kansagra, of the Kenton ward voted against with one abstention from Cllr Lia Colacicco, of the Mapesbury ward.
The committee lost two members before the exchange of words started after Cllr Shafique Choudhary, from Barnhill, and Cllr Dan Filson, who represents the Kensal Green ward, withdrew their vote after expressing personal interest.
Cllr Marquis, who chairs the planning committee and works as a lawyer, utilised her legal background in recommending a decision on the matter be pushed back.
The newly elected councillor decided the committee needed legal advice on whether a probe over allegations that emails supporting the previous application to develop the axed reading room were faked.
Meg Howarth, who has campaigned to save the axed library, listed as asset of community value, commended the committee for the “brave” decision.
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“It is absolutely the right decision.
“It is nonsensical to hear a revised application while a police investigation into fraud on the applicant’s previous application is still ongoing.”
Andrew Gillick, director of Platinum Revolver Limited (PRL), which owns the Victorian property in Bathurst Gardens, Kensal Rise, submitted plans to convert it into five flats and a community space under the handle of Kensal Properties –another company in which he runs.
In March, the developer gave community group Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) two-thirds of the building’s ground floor space to use as a reading room as part proposals to redevelop the site.
Commenting on the decision, Margaret Bailey, chairwoman of FKRL said: “We are disappointed that the meeting seemed unprepared to deal with issues that are pertinent to the planning decision.
“We appreciate the support we have had from the community and local councillors that we should be tenants of the community space.
“We will continue to campaign for a community library in the building whatever the outcome of planning decisions.”
Mr Gillick maintains that the company had no involvement with any email support for the former submission.
He said: “We have never used anyone’s name or fraudulently supported any application.
“I am disappointed at last nights decision as it is clearly unjust and I am a wholly innocent party.”