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'Affordable' housing plans that incorporate Preston Library approved despite local opposition

PUBLISHED: 15:20 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:20 23 August 2019

Preston Commmunity Library will be bulldozed for new multi storey block with community space on ground floor. Picture: Google

Preston Commmunity Library will be bulldozed for new multi storey block with community space on ground floor. Picture: Google

Archant

A community library will be knocked down and replaced with a new facility alongside a housing block up to four storeys high.

Brent Council's planning committee comfortably voted in favour of the changes at Preston Library, in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley.

The decision came despite strong opposition from residents, who took issue with the proposals for 12 new flats at the site.

Cllr Michael Maurice also spoke against the plans, though other councillors were in favour of the new homes, which will all be available for 'affordable rent' - up to 80 per cent of the market rate.

"Our issue is with the building, not the library," Cllr Maurice said.

"We very much want a library, we are very happy with the way it is being run, but we do not want replaced by this big block of flats."

He said the application is "deeply flawed" and described the proposed building as "overbearing" and out of character with the area.

"It will be a blot on the landscape and is nothing short of an ugly monstrosity," he added.

Residents had raised several objections to the scheme, including what they see as inadequate parking, a lack of consultation and concerns around the construction phase.

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Planning officers assured the committee that the proposal of six parking spaces is "adequate".

They added that a condition could be applied to prevent new residents from obtaining permits for street parking.

Officers also noted that a wider-than-statutory consultation was carried out and a condition is in place for the applicant to provide "additional details" on its construction plans before going ahead.

Philip Bromberg, chairman of Preston Community Library (PCL), supported the plans since they will ultimately improve the library at the site.

He added that his support is based on the assumption that the community library will be given a 49-year lease at peppercorn rent by Brent Council.

"Is the new library perfect? Perhaps not," he said. "But it will be the permanent and sustainable library which we've been working towards since we opened four years ago."

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, responsible for culture and leisure at Brent Council, confirmed that he will ensure this lease is signed and the council will work with PCL at its temporary site in Ashley Gardens.

He added the council has a responsibility to provide buildings for the public to use and that the library will "serve children and adults for years to come".

And he supported the plans for all 12 flats to be offered at affordable rent, which he described as a "quite rare" proposal.

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