Contentious Carlton and Granville plans in South Kilburn sent ‘back to cabinet’
PUBLISHED: 15:30 08 April 2019
An “unprecedented number” of South Kilburn neighbours attended a scrutiny meeting urging Brent Council not to redevelop two vital community centres.
More than a dozen speakers put their views forward after cabinet’s decision to redevelop the Carlton and Granville centres was “called in” for scrutiny by the public realm committee.
The plans, which include building 23 council homes on the site, were waved through on March 11 despite massive opposition from the community living in and around it.
At the meeting on April 3 committee chair Cllr Matt Kelcher sent the plans “back to cabinet” to address four issues – including the need for increased community space and a greater number of three-and-four- bedroom flats, and a discussion about governance of the site.
Two groups – the South Kilburn Trust (SKT) and Granville Nursery – spoke in favour of the plans. Also present were the council itself and the Granville Community Kitchen (GCK), the only opposing stakeholder.
Two of the councillors who “called in” the plans, Kilburn’s Rita Conneely and Faduma Hassan, said the “onus is meant to be community provision” and set out their concerns about the new homes being built, arguing these should instead be placed in other nearby redevelopments.
Charity Rumi’s Cave has a lease in the Carlton Centre, which will be ended if the plans go through. Founder Sheikh Babikir said more than 2,000 people a week used the centre.
The charity deals with “mothers who are depressed at home”, and offers weekend, breakfast and afterschool clubs to young people as well as legal and financial advice to adults. “The council is responsible for that,” said Rumi. “We are doing the job for that.”
Speakers told of noise complaints made about the community centres by people in new housing blocks in Granville Road.
Dolores Vila said clauses written into tenancies telling people to accept that community activities will take place “doesn’t stop residents complaining and it didn’t take long before that [activity] was stopped”.
Leslie Barson, co-founder of GCK and member of the Otherwise Club, has long argued against the reduction of community space in the plans.
She asked for a “delay” in executing the plan to “give more opportunity for the whole community to be involved in the plans”.
The Kilburn community battled the council in 2016 over “phase one” of its plans, where the centres were to be demolished.
A stakeholders group was formed of community and council representatives.
SKT was eventually given the keys in December 2017 and the charity transformed the Granville space into an enterprise hub for entrepreneurs and organisations.
The great hall, formerly used for weddings, funerals and events, was turned into open office space.
Under the “phase two” proposals agreed, the nursery will survive and be modified, and SKT will manage the Carlton site, which will be turned into enterprise and office space.
SKT was criticised as not representing the wider community.
Pete Firmin, chair of the Alpha, Gorefield and Canterbury Tenants and Residents’ Association, said he still had no answer from SKT as to why it supported Brent Council’s proposal to put an HS2 vent shaft in Chamberlayne Road.
“There is no meeting where the SKT is accessible to the community,” he said.
David Ellison, speaking for SKT, said: “People I speak to support what the SKT tries to do.” He said the Granville was being used for the community, with 20,000 visits and 400 community events since May.
But councillors questioned SKT’s dominance in the plan. Cllr Roxanne Mashari asked for the “whole stakeholders group”, not just the SKT, to manage the centres.
Regeneration chief Cllr Shama Tatler said the application was for “redevelopment, not future governance”. She said governance could be “looked at later” but many issues were for the planning committee.
Cllr Neil Nerva said there were not enough “family-sized” homes in the plan, but chief exec Carolyn Downs said bigger ones weren’t financially viable.