‘Free’ community-run library in Kensal Rise could be costly

Kensal Rise Library in Bathurst Gardens

Kensal Rise Library in Bathurst Gardens - Credit: Archant

A deal to open a new community-run reading room in the former site of the axed Kensal Rise Library could prove to be a costly one, the sales agreement reveals.

Andrew Gillick, the director of to Platinum Revolver Limited (PRL), which brought the building off its owners All Souls College (ASC), agreed to give Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) two-thirds of the building’s ground floor space to use rent free last month.

PRL plan to build flats in the rest of the building in Bathurst Gardens.

However, under the sales agreement, which has been made public for the first time, FKRL will be obliged to spend money in repair damage and pay for the maintenance and fix damage that may occur to the building’s exterior, as well as its insurance.

Margaret Bailey, chair of the FKRL, a group established to save the old library and will run the new reading room, said: “We are getting the library and community space rent free which is a significant concession by the College and which will substantially reduce our running costs.

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“Whilst there will be ongoing repair and maintenance costs, we do not expect that these will be significant in the short to medium term.

“The proposed terms of the lease are what we expected. We would expect to pay our proportionate share of repair and maintenance works to the building and we will plan for these costs when budgeting.

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“If we were taking on the whole building we would be responsible for all of the repairs and maintenance which would be a much greater expense and responsibility.”

ASC, which is also a registered charity, sold the building to Platinum Revolver Limited (PRL) after it was handed back to them by Brent Council when they closed the library in 2011.

The Oxford-based college were forced into releasing a copy of the options agreement by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) after they refused to do so following freedom of information requests by Ms Bailey and campaigner Meg Howarth.

However, mystery around the price of the deal remains, after the ICO ordered for its omission from the public copy, as well as information into the date of completion and the names and personal details of the buyer and the solicitors involved.

Claiming that the public deserve to know the sale price, Ms Howarth said the sale is in the legitimate public interest as the building is an ‘Asset of Community Value’.

She said: “Local residents deserve to know how much the historic building, which has been beloved in the community for many years, has been sold for and how much the developer is making from it.”

The land registry released a nominal value of the library in Bathurst Gardens of just under £100,000 in July 2012.

However, Francis Henry from Daniels Estate Agency and Friends of Barham Library volunteer, said: “At this point in time an investor would pay around £1.7 million for this property.

“It is an expensive area and prices have shot up there. He [Andrew Gillick] certainly paid this sum if not more.”

Kensal Rise Library was closed alongside Barham, Cricklewood, Preston, Tokyngton and Neasden branches to save £1million.

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