Councillor behind Willesden Green Library demolition sees ‘no architectural significance’ of Victorian building

Campaigners riled by Cllr George Crane’s revelations during packed Brent Council meeting

Campaigners shouted ‘shame on you’ when the councillor responsible for the demolition of Willesden Green Library said he saw no significance in the Victorian building.

The remarks were made at a packed Town Hall meeting on Monday night when a petition signed by 3,500 people was handed into Brent Council against the plans to knock down the library in High Road, Willesden Green.

Cllr George Crane, lead member for regeneration and major projects, said: “My response was a genuine one. I saw no architectural significance on the Victorian building. There are lots of people who have different views on this.

“The planning committee will decide on that issue. We are trying to achieve a new library and cultural centre for the 21st century and civic centre for the south of the borough.” He added: I’ve been to a public meeting and listened to objections.

“There will now be an opportunity to pause and reflect on the plans.”

But a huge round of applause erupted in the committee room after petitioner Miki Berenyi spoke out about the proposals during the meeting attended by adults and children holding placards calling for the council to ‘Stop, Listen and Reflect’.

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She said: “Your view is that this is a fantastic opportunity. A new cultural centre will put Willesden on the map.

“Yet this means losing a much-loved Victorian building, a treasured independent bookshop and an open, communal space.

“There will be almost no parking, no kids’ playground and no library for 18 months, just when you’ve closed six libraries.”

Residents believe there has been a lack of consultation over the plans to knock down the site and the old library building.

The popular Willesden Bookshop will also be forced out when the centre is flattened.

Ms Berenyi added: “To get to the short-term benefit of the new cultural centre, we have to sacrifice the soul of the High Street. “At the close of this petition, I received a communication from Democratic Services saying that there will, I quote, ‘not be any accompanying report on this matter because as you know the Executive has already taken decisions on the matter’. In other words, come along, say your piece, but our minds are already made up.”