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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Willesden Library Centre Redevelopment

The next Brent Executive will be considering proposals for the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library Centre.  Campaigning against this has started early.  Indeed some of the people campaigning against cannot possibly know what the proposal is that they are opposing.  I thought it might be worth clearing up some myths about the proposals.

No one knew about this.  In fact the in-principle proposals have been in the public domain for some time, as this story shows.  I also recall it being discussed at the Willesden Area Forum, when I was presenting the Libraries Transformation Project there.

There will be no replacement library.  This is a fairly extraordinary suggestion, which is untrue and nonsensical.  The plans, which should be available at the next Executive meeting show a much improved library as well as other facilities.

There will be no interim arrangement during the construction period.  In fact, during the 18 month construction period, there will be interim arrangement to provide library and other services.  To some extent, these will be less convenient, as is the case whenever you rebuild anything.  In other ways, extending the Museum outreach for example, the changes may throw up new opportunities. 

There will be a negative effect on Willesden High Road.  In fact, having a prestigious new development in Willesden should enhance the High Road and build on the work already done through Outer London funding to create jobs in the area.

The loss of open space at the front will make for a worse environment.  The current proposals suggest an improved open space between the new centre and the housing behind it.  The space at the front is poorly used, not flexible and tends to hide the existing Centre.  As I have pointed out before, Willesden Library centre has a very poor relationship with the surrounding streets.

There is nothing wrong with the building.  The existing centre was poorly designed, expensive to heat, fails to draw users in, and difficult to find a way around.  That is one of the main reasons that both the cafe and the cinema failed commercially.

Those are some of the myths.  No doubt more will be produced on the night of the Executive meeting.


Anonymous said...

Remember when the 'new' Willesden Library was going to be the 'library to end all libraries'? Less than 25 years ago? Poorly designed? Bad use of space etc etc etc This 'mistake' was brought to us by a previous Labour Administration. What is there about the current council that could inspire confidence about this redevelopment?

Anonymous said...

Brent Labour gave us the Willesden Library in the first place. No doubt another Labour council will pull down this new development in another 25 years. Who wastes money?

Anonymous said...

Why does the existing frontage building - or at least the front part of it - have to be demolished, though?

You would be hard-pressed to plan a more attractive replacement in that location, particularly in the current economic climate. What is the replacement design there?

Ossian said...

The Heritage Lottery fund provided part of over £600,000 on renovation of the existing building and moving the Grange Museum there in the last few years. Not only have you provided what you describe as a completely unsuitable building, you've also wasted a fortune, allowed it to fall into dereliction and now you're going to knock it down and have another go around the track. What a record of carelessness and incompetence.

What were the various plans considered before settling on the present one and what other developers tendered for the project?

Anonymous said...

The only ones to gain from this redevelopment will be the developer and their pals in the council. Lets not kid ourselves most of this development is about selling over 90 flats. The developer will want to build the new library as cheaply as possible to maximise profits. The new library will make up only 1/8th of the new development and the loss of the car park will cut off the area from the outside.

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