Oct 4 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
willesden green cultural centre
DETAILED plans of the new cultural centre proposed for Willesden Green received a mixed reception from library users.
The designs for the new building, which will be built in High Street, in place of the Willesden Green Library Centre earmarked for demolition, went on display at another consultation evening at the library on Tuesday last week.
Those who use the building and live nearby attended the event, with representatives from Brent Council and the architects for the scheme, and were surprised to hear what the actual size of the new building would be.
Martin Redston, a member of the campaign group Keep Willesden Green, said that many people did not realise the new building would only cover roughly half the area of the current one.
He said: “Simon Watkins, the architect, stood at the back of the room just behind the chairs where we were sitting and told us that this would be the position of the new rear wall. Everybody was visibly shocked.”
Dr Tessa Dresser, of Olive Road, has lived in the area for 44 years and said: “I haven’t had a chance to look at the plans yet but I am told they are very like the old plans. They have kept the old building by popular demand, which is something at least.”
Andrew Fenn, who lives in nearby Grange Road, said that the maximum size of the replacement culture centre had already been determined by the presence of a block of flats proposed to be built over the land, which is currently open space at the back of the existing premises.
Beth Kay, regeneration officer for Brent Council, assured people that despite an overall smaller footprint, the total area allocated for the library would be an increase on what is currently provided.
Architects from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris presented the designs that show the cultural centre will be spread over three floors and will include a children’s library on the ground floor, the main library spread over a number of floors, a theatre, two flexible areas with one doubling as a gallery, a customer service centre, Brent Museum, the archives and office space for council workers on the top floor.
The Victorian library building will be preserved and used as a gallery space.
There have been a series of consultation events over the course of the summer for different groups and the results of all of these events will be published by the council in the next few weeks.
The revised plans displayed at last week’s meeting come after an earlier planning application for the cultural centre and four blocks of residential flats was withdrawn earlier this year.