Kensal Rise Library campaigners slam All Souls College over ‘secrecy’ claims
PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 March 2013
Crusaders say they have been refused access to sales agreement
A wealthy Oxford College planning to sell off two libraries in Brent to property developers has come under fire for refusing to reveal details of an alleged binding agreement.
All Souls College, which owns Kensal Rise and Cricklewood Libraries, shut down by Brent Council in October 2011, say they have an agreement with property developer Platinum Revolver to develop both reading rooms.
But campaigners have issued a warning to the college and the council to ensure they are allowed to see the agreement.
Under the plans, Kensal Rise Library and Cricklewood Library would be turned into flats with a small space for libraries in both buildings, which residents say is unsatisfactory.
The land where Kensal Rise Library stands was donated to the council from the college in the late 1800s and the building was paid for following fundraising efforts from the community.
Kensal Rise Library supporters were heartened when the council listed the building as an Asset of Community Value, meaning that any sale could be temporarily stalled and campaigners could put together a bid to buy the building themselves.
However, All Souls claimed it was exempt as an agreement was completed prior to the date of the listing.
Margaret Bailey, chairman of the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign, told the Times: “How can the council be expected to make a decision if they cannot see the document they are making a decision on? We are entitled to know who these property investors are. If the college or the developers have nothing to hide regarding the purchase of Kensal Rise Library, why not show the details of the agreement?”
A spokesman for the council said solicitors for the college had provided detailed information showing they entered into an arrangement with a developer before the land was listed.
“Having considered the information provided by the All Souls College solicitors, it currently appears to the council that the restrictions on sale in the Localism Act do not apply to this particular case,” he said.
A spokesman for All Souls told the Times: “We have no obligation to show them.
“Our solicitors, who are 100 per cent legitimate, have explained exactly what’s in the agreement but due to sensitivity we will not be releasing it.”