Friday, 29 June 2012

100% disapproval of old library demolition, 95% opposition to entire scheme

This further comment on the planning application may be of interest:

I have spent many hours talking to local residents and others about this scheme. To date I have found that there is 100% disapproval of the proposal to demolish the old 1894 Library building and probably 95% opposed to the entire scheme.Many are actively campaigning by writing objections to Brent's planning officer. It should be recognised that the Applicant's own survey implemented in April 2012 indicated more than 70% disapproval for this scheme.

On this basis alone the current plans should be rejected. The application being considered by the Planning Committee includes many unsubstantiated statements in particular in relation to the condition of the existing buildings, consultation procedures and outcomes etc. The design and access statement correctly identifies that the 1983 design was opened in 1989 as a 'marker for regeneration in the area'. Later in the same document there is justification for the new development by reference to the public spaces which are apparently neglected at the rear and steeply ramped at the front thus deterring their use as a public space and preventing access to the library.

Neither of these contentions is true, public events are often organised easily in ether position but little promotoion is implemented by Brent Council as a result of the lack of will to create public community feeling. The description of the library building is clearly inaccurate. It describes it as unwelcoming and with poor signage. The signage could easily be updated, and indeed a new matrix light sign has been erected over the frontage and provides information about current events. The two Willesden Green Library Centre signs at the front are both clearly visible from the High Road and could be enhanced with modern LED lights if necessary. Colourful flags and banners could be incorporated along the frontage and elsewhere in Willesden Green advertising the facilities. This is the approach taken by other Councils in parts of London.

 As I understand it Brent Council has Planning Guidelines for this type of public building. It is clear that the scheme does not comply with these. For example Objective 9 of the Brent sustainablity plan states that an increase of public open space is to be provided. This not the case with this scheme, where public open space is actually decreasing and being moved round to the rear, largely as a facility for the flats behind. It should be noted that there is currently a Town Square registration application for determination later in July. The Registration is necessary because the area between the Old and New libraries have been used by the Public as of right for more than twenty years, thus precluding any building work over the area.

 Public car parking is not included within the new WGCC at all. Existing loading bay provision in Grange Road is being converted to Parent/baby and disabled spaces (5 in total). This contrasts directly with the private car parking being provided for the private flats where 60 spaces are being created in an underground car park below. This will reduce use of the new Centre because public transport does not serve all areas of the borough.

 Section 106 Agreement. In discussions with many members of the Community, I have been asked repeatably about Social Housing provision as a planning gain to be provided by the developer. None has been offered. Brent Council has indicated that the construction of a new library is being offered in lieu. However as indicated above the new library will have less provision than the existing arrangement. This means that there is nothing additional offered for the benefit of the community. There is thus a lack of S 106 legal provision making the entire application invalid. Please ensure that it is rejected on these grounds

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