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Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Commenting on the Morland Gardens Development

Subsequent to my post on Friday, there have been further comments on the Morland Gardens redevelopment proposal.  Philip Grant, a local historian, has written on the history of the building.

The assessment accompanying the application is that during the building's long life the historical features were all stripped out and only the shell remained.  As an aside, I don't recognise his various descriptions of the debate around Willesden Library which was subject to a number of misconceptions.  Essentially, he wants to turn down the current proposal for 65 housing units, some workspace and a further education college in order to retain the Victorian shell and have half the number of housing units.  Which choice one would make depends on a value judgement.

UPDATE 09.03.20

Mr Grant has commented below.  Just to unpack my comment on misconceptions.  I was commenting on misconceptions in general, which I summarised at the time.  I believe that Mr Grant suggested that the only publicity given to the proposed redevelopment was a small focus group, and nothing else.  This was not so as a number of reports and Council meetings had described the options as they were developed (all in the public domain), the Willesden Area Consultative Forum had been informed as referenced in the 2012 post I have just linked to, the Willesden and Brent Times had covered the story (as referenced in the article I just linked to, and I personally had had a number of conversations on the subject with various parties to the library litigation.

1 comment:

Philip Grant said...

Thank you for providing a link to my guest blog on "Wembley Matters" about the 1 Morland Gardens proposals - 'Housing or heritage, or both?'

The "assessment" accompanying the application claims that the locally listed Victorian villa has 'minimal significance', but that is not what Brent Council's own assessment of this heritage asset, included in its Local List documents (see Appendix to Brent's Historic Environment Place-making Strategy, May 2019) says. That scores the "significance" of 1 Morland Gardens at 8 out of 12.

Could it be that the planning agents, putting forward the application to Planning Committee on the Council's behalf, are deliberately understating the locally listed building's significance? By a strange coincidence, that is exactly what the agents for the first Galliford Try (/ Brent Council) planning application on Willesden Green Library tried to do in 2012.

I am puzzled by your statement about my 'various descriptions of the debate around Willesden Library.' All I said about it in my article was:
'Brent’s Regeneration Department has “history” in wanting to demolish heritage buildings! Many of us remember the battles to save the Victorian section of the Willesden Green Library building in 2012. As well as the great effort by the local community, one of the factors that helped to prevent that locally listed building from being knocked down was that it was in a Conservation Area, so would have needed special consent to allow its demolition.'

What is it about my reference to the facts of that case that you don't understand?

Talking of the local community's successful efforts to prevent the demolition of the original Victorian section of the 1894 Willesden Green Library, did you know that the front cover of Brent's 2019 Historic Environment Place-making Strategy document has a photograph of the new Library, with a caption celebrating that it
'returns to use the locally listed Victorian Library, blending perfectly the old and the new'?

This confirms what Brent Council's stated policy on heritage assets is, as summed up in the following paragraph from the document (rather than the total opposite of that policy, which they hope to push through with their 1 Morland Gardens planning application):-

'The value of Brent’s heritage should not be underestimated and is a key message of the Historic Environment Place-making Strategy. Once a heritage asset is demolished it cannot be replaced. Its historic value is lost forever to the community and future generations and it cannot be used for regeneration and place-making purposes. The effective preservation of historic buildings, places and landscapes and their stewardship is therefore fundamental to the Council’s role.’

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