Road named changed to honour Neasden Temple founder despite local opposition

Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj died in 2016 aged 94 (Pic: BAPS Media)

Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj died in 2016 aged 94 (Pic: BAPS Media) - Credit: Archant

Part of a road near a major Hindu temple in Neasden will be renamed after the guru who founded it, despite huge opposition.

Neasden Temple. Picture: Kamlesh Patel

Neasden Temple. Picture: Kamlesh Patel - Credit: Archant

Brent Council’s cabinet approved an application by Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, also known as Neasden Temple, on October 12, to change a section Meadow Garth to Pramukh Swami Road.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was president of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) movement, which is followed at Neasden Temple. He died in 2016 aged 94.

The council acknowledged the mandir’s position as a “international landmark” in Brent, as well as its contribution to the borough.

However, one resident living in Meadow Garth said it would be “grossly disrespectful” to her and her neighbours to rename part of the street.

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She said it would be a “great inconvenience” and could contribute to an “increase in anxiety” due to the associated hassle.

And, while she acknowledged the temple’s contribution to the community and its offer of compensation to those affected by any change, she believes the negatives would outweigh any positive impact.

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She was supported by representatives from Brentfield Primary School, who warned that any change would split its address and suggested it “does not reflect our community or the school community”.

And the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority said the spelling and pronunciation of the proposed new name “could cause confusion and possible delay in the event of an emergency”.

Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt, said he appreciated these concerns but, overall, the name change would be a positivestep.

He said: “We are at a juncture in society where we will be discussing a whole host of community issues.

“Brent has always been a welcoming community – its diversity makes it unique and is what makes it such a successful borough.

“Recognising the achievements of all our communities is one of the ways we can create a cohesive society.”

Dudden Hill representative Cllr Krupesh Hirani welcomed the application, describing the mandir – the largest Hindu temple in Europe – as “part and parcel” of Brent and a site of global significance.

He added it was good to see a road name change linked to a “positive contribution” rather than those associated with negative history.

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