Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

They want to cut the heart out of Willesden

Willesden Green Writers' Group: Breaking News

"Osama's phonebox" (Sphagnum)
"On 19th January at the College of NW London in Willesden at 7pm there is a meeting about the fact the council want to knock down Willesden Green Library Centre in order to re-build it as a complex with space for social housing. The new complex is due to re-open in 2014. I don't know when the library is due to close but I'm guessing it must be fairly soon. There are lots of questions to be answered, amongst them, why are they knocking down a building that received a £336500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as recently as 2006 in order to incorporate the Brent Museum into the building? ..."

The Library Centre is a marvellous local hub, the best library for miles around. The tables upstairs are usually full of students reading and studying. Quite probably those young people have no quiet place to study at home. There is the council's own One-Stop Shop, the very busy and enterprising art gallery, the Willesden bookshop and not forgetting Brent Museum, which was taken from it's dedicated building the Grange Museum in Neasden not so long ago and rebuilt within the library centre. Who can forget the visit of the Divine Cat on loan from the British Museum, with the pennants and posters all around announcing that mysterious and priceless visitor? (Its long-suffering security attendant had to sit and watch it all day as it sat and watched him.) There are keep fit classes in the meeting rooms, events in the marvellous Studio space upstairs and of course the weekly meetings of the Willesden Green Writers' Workshop, winner of an Arts Council prize for community publishing.

"Voters queued early" (Sphagnum)
About half of the space in the centre is currently unused because the Bellevue Cinema was allowed to fall into dereliction and closed and Gigi's café bar, where there used to be jazz one or two nights a week is now empty and has been for some time. Visitors to the cinema and to the many events in the library centre used to provide much of the custom for Gigi's. The feasibility of such events has been degraded since the council allowed the dereliction of the cinema and the closure of Gigi's. Now we know what they must have had in mind.

It's a good bet they will squash some kennel-like flats into the space occupied by the centre's car park, stuff some plasticated chain stores into the hub of the library centre and put back some fig leaf of a bookstall, as happened in Northolt (see linked report). The end result is likely to be another dormitory, more industrial feed troughs, further homogenisation and commercialisation, another step further away from being human and towards becoming like an ant colony.



lightupvirginmary said...

Nice blog. I am disgusted by this news. Gigi's used to be a lovely place to go after writing group, and I didn't even know the cinema was closed, but it used to be fun and cheap to go there when I lived in Willesden.
The writing group will find a new home- but we shouldn't have to. Fuck those flats.

Anonymous said...

Not nice people at Brent Council, I know councils got extra money over and above the costs of building social housing, incentives from the government.

To get the money they had to build extra houses above their planned levels.So they started knocking down public buildings and community buildings. Across from where I was living was a home and day centre for children/young adults with severe learning difficulties (down's syndrome).

Those kids used to arrive by community buses and mingle with the residential kids, one big happy family, I was very impressed by the centre and it's commitment to needy children. I wonder where they are now?

Well, it's not there now, knocked down in the summer to make way for social housing, 12 flats I believe, with some off road parking.

Lots of extra loot from the public purse, needed by the council to pay for their pension schemes no doubt.

I loved Gigi's too.


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