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Campaigners urge council to shelve library plans
CAMPAIGNERS have urged the council to put an immediate stop to plans to demolish a library after 5,000 people petitioned against it.
The Keep Willesden Green group has asked Brent Council to stop the process which will see Willesden Green Library Centre demolished and rebuilt into a library and cultural hub.
The group has pleaded with the authority to 'Stop, Listen and Reflect' because it claims it has not properly listened to local people, thousands of whom are against the loss of the treasured building, part of which dates back to 1894.
Martin Francis, a local Green party blogger, said: "People feel that they have not been consulted properly. All people can have a say on is things like the inside layout of the new centre.
"People do not want the centre to be knocked down, it is a cherished building and it is part of the local heritage and they do not feel like they are being listened to."
A recent pre-planning consultation by the council received 220 responses and just 15 of those were in support of the plans, while 171 people objected. Twenty-four were partial supporters and 10 were undecided.
An e-petition, which closed on Tuesday, requested that the council stop the process to hear the views of locals and has collected more than 300 signatures.
More than 5,000 people also signed an earlier petition asking the council to keep the building, which was submitted to the council earlier this year.
Martin Redston, a member of the Keep Willesden Green group, said: "We have no problem at all with the building being improved inside and developed as a cultural hub, but we feel there is no need to knock it down."
A spokesman for Brent Council said: "Brent Council is looking at the results of the consultation and the designs for the new centre are being reviewed.
"Consultation is on-going and after the planning application is submitted another round of consultation will begin, looking in more detail at the key spaces in the building and how the building is managed. We want all of our stakeholders to get involved and are excited about this development and we urge residents to continue putting their thoughts across - we are listening."
A public exhibition is planned for May where the final designs for the planning application will be on display at the centre in Willesden High Road.
Elsewhere in Brent, there has been a major development for two local libraries shut by the council.
The land at Cricklewood and Kensal Rise, which holds two closed libraries, has been given back to All Souls College, the original owners.
Campaigners hoped volunteers from Kensal Rise would be given permission by the owners to run a library as a community-led facility. No final decision has been made on whether or not it will be run by local people.
A spokesman for the council said: "With the closure of the two libraries as part of the council's libraries transformation programme, the purpose for use has ceased and consequently All Souls College has asserted its legal right and requested that the land is returned."
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