Monday, 31 December 2012

Harrow Observer on Willesden Town Square Public Enquiry

From the Harrow Observer website:

Keep Willesden Green inquiry set for next year

Public hearing about plans for Willesden Green Library, High Road, Willesden Green. L-R: Nicolette McKenzie, Sheila and Martin Redston, Elizabeth Proud, Alex Colas.
AN INQUIRY in to an application to turn an area outside Willesden Green Library in to a public square has been adjourned until next month.

Martin Redston applied to Brent Council to have the public space outside the library in High Road, Willesden, to be officially designated as a public square in order to protect the building.

After being told the inquiry would take place in December, Mr Redston was given two weeks to prepare reams of legal papers to back up his case, but asked for an adjournment so he could consult specialist lawyers and prepare witness statements.

Mr Redston, who runs a civil and structural engineering business, said: “This has been dragging on since March and it is a very long process. We now have until February to prepare all the documents and our argument.”

Mr Redston’s application will be decided by Brent Council and could potentially have implications for a planning application which is lodged with the council by developers Galliford Try to demolish the southern side of the library, which was built in the 1980s, and redevelop the entire site into nine blocks of flats and a cultural centre with library.

This is the second application from developers Galliford Try after the initial application was withdrawn and revised to retain the Victorian section of the building, which sits within the Willesden Green Conservation Area.

There has been widespread opposition from users who want to retain the buildings and Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, has also objected.

A decision will be made on the planning application on February 13 – the same week the inquiry hearing is due to take place.

A spokesman for Linden Homes, a sister company of Galliford Try, said: “It is too early to comment on the outcome of the public enquiry.”

Two objections have been lodged against the proposal to designate the area in front of the 1983 library a public square, from Linden Homes and Brent Council.

Mr Redston, who is part of the Keep Willesden Green campaign, is hoping neighbours will back his case and will be able to prove they use the area ‘as of right’ in order to get the status.

The campaigner is not sure how much the whole process will cost, but it could run in to tens of thousands of pounds and Mr Redston said the group is considering launching a fundraising campaign to cover this, if necessary.

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