willesden green cultural centre
WILLESDEN’s Victorian library building will be retained and incorporated into a new cultural centre after developers completely redesigned their plans to address campaigners’ concerns.
Galliford Try submitted revised proposals for the development of the Willesden Green Library Centre in High Road, on Wednesday last week after public outcry forced the first scheme to be withdrawn in July.
A Brent Council statement said: “In response to the recent extended period of consultation, Brent has made several changes to the design, including completely redesigning the scheme to include the old library, increasing the size of the new library within the centre, creating room for more study spaces and computers, and changing the brief for the building so that it could, potentially, include a bookshop.”
Steve Adams, owner of The Willesden Bookshop that moved out of the library centre when the lease was terminated in August, said: “I think it’s a good thing. It’s a building that needs to be preserved and is in complete harmony with the other buildings. All the buildings were built around the same period and in terms of architectural proportionality are very similar. It was going to be an act of vandalism to knock it down.”
The 1989 Willesden Green Library Centre would be demolished but the 1894 old library building retained. The size of the proposed replacement library has grown from the original scheme, the number of flats has increased from 92 to 95 and the tenure mix altered.
The sale of these properties, to be built by Galliford Try’s partner Linden Homes in place of the existing car park, are needed to fund the rest of the scheme.
Once open in 2014, the centre would boast a children’s library, a computer section, a replacement Brent Museum and archive – funded by an existing £1.3million Heritage Lottery Fund grant – community gallery, three community spaces, cafe and possibly a separate or co-located bookshop, a prayer room and event space.
Councillor George Crane, Brent Council’s lead member for regeneration and major projects, said: “Thank you to the many residents who got involved in consultation and gave up their time to help us develop plans for this new centre.”
However, not all campaigners are happy with the outcome.
Martin Redston, who is waiting for the council to consider an application to register public space between the library centre and the old library as a town square to protect it, said: “The developers may have increased the library area but at the expense of peripheral areas because they have not increased the overall size of the building.”