Aug 6 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
CAMPAIGNERS against the overhaul of Willesden Green Library Centre say developers and the council are ‘burying bad news’ by organising a consultation event during the summer holidays.
Brent Council and developers of the scheme, Galliford Try, are hosting an open day on August 8 at the High Road centre to show their designs, but those opposed to the plans to demolish the library and build a cultural centre and housing say there has not been enough notice and many people will be away.
Martin Redston, a member of the Keep Willesden Green campaign, said: “The fact is, they are making this up as they go along. They hoped to get this all through the back door and weren’t expecting this level of opposition.
“They have given 10 days notice for this meeting.
“It is in the middle of the Olympics and when everyone who is not watching it is on holiday.
“If this isn’t a case of burying bad news I don’t know what is.”
Developers Galliford Try withdrew the planning application in July and a spokesman said: “The application was withdrawn so we could have more time to consult on it.
“It is an opportunity for people to come along and ask questions about the application and the whole point of the event is to consult further on the designs. We are very much interested in what people have to say.”
Hundreds of objections against the proposals to demolish the landmark building, part of which dates back to 1894, have been submitted to the council, as well as a petition of 5,000 names.
It is unclear whether new designs have been drawn up in light of opposition, or whether the original plans will be on display.
Several objectors have written a formal complaint to the council’s monitoring office on four grounds – alleging the application had been predetermined, there had been a failure to consult, councillors misrepresented the loss of public services as a benefit, and a lack of transparency.
One of the complainants, Helen Marcus, a retired singer of Anson Road, Willesden, said: “There were over 300 letters of objection to the planning application, all saying ‘Please don’t pull down this nice little library’, but the council has chosen to ignore all of it.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The planning application for the proposed new Willesden Green Cultural Centre was withdrawn by Galliford Try at the beginning of July.
“The council and Galliford Try are now proposing some further engagement activities with local people and other stakeholders to explore the design for the Cultural Centre, including what the building will look like and also what activities will take place in and around it.”
The open day is on Wednesday, August 8, from 11am to 8pm at the Library Lab in Willesden Green library, where visitors will be able to drop in at any time and watch presentations. More information is available at the Library Lab.