Willesden Green Library to convert into Cultural Centre

By Zanib Asghar

With the help of Brent Council and Galliford Try, Willesden Green Library Centre will be combining the old and the new to create a cultural centre in the Town Square.

The agreement between Brent Council and developers, Galliford Try, will deliver a new cultural centre in Willesden Green at no cost to Brent taxpayers. In addition to the new centre, 92 residential units will be delivered by Galliford Try’s sister company, Linden Homes, on adjacent land.

The new Willesden Green Cultural Centre will consist of a play area for pre-school and primary school children, as well as a dedicated teen space for study breaks and quiet corners. There will also be a new community gallery and exhibition space for local artists, a purpose-built Brent Museum, a bigger Brent archive, a cafe, a customer contact centre and prayer room.

As the preliminary proposals began, the original suggestion was to tear down the Victorian library and create an entirely new building in its place. After several petitions, town meetings and public hearings, the proposals for a futuristic building are now combined with the current structure of the 138-year-old building.

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Although this plan seems like a great way to combine the old and the new, not everyone is supporting the arrival of the new cultural centre. Several local residents have been blogging their concerns for the library and town square.

In addition to their online protests, the Keep Willesden Green group have also been holding public meetings where residents voice their concerns over the loss of the library, how construction will disrupt peace in the area and how public space should remain public.

Despite their protesting against the new construction plans the claims were thrown out following the conclusion of a public inquiry.

Joweliya Senyonjo, a former student at the College of North West London says, “I still go to the library to study here and I like that the library is going to change. It’s good that they’re making the library bigger and adding new rooms. This way students will have a separate place to study, which is the whole point of having a library so close to the college in the first place.”

A report by Brent Council, finalized on March 11th states, “The difficulty for this application, however, is that the law requires land to have been used for LSP (leisure sport and pastimes) for a period of 20 years or more before it qualifies for registration as a TVG (town or village green).

“Whatever the affection with which the Site is held today by local residents, there is in my view simply not the evidence there to support the conclusion that the same was true in the early 1990s.

“It is also clear to me that there are many people who have come to value the Site as a civic space. However, that is not the test for registration as a TVG.”

Plans for the new cultural centre will continue, with Galliford Try hoping to start construction work in 2013.

For more information on the cultural centre and the latest construction plans, visit the Official Brent Website.

Follow Zanib Asghar on Twitter.

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