A new community centre has opened on one of Brent’s poorest estates after a decades-long campaign from residents. 

Residents on St Raphael’s Estate, where England and Chelsea footballer Raheem Sterling grew up, were delighted to finally get a space to support neighbourhood activities. 

The area has been crying out for redevelopment and this community hub is seen as the first step towards achieving that goal. 


Asif Zamir, chairman of local residents’ group St Raphael’s Voice, said he was pleased to see Brent Council “listen to residents” and their needs. 

He said: “This is a joyous occasion. It has been over 20 years that we have not had any community facilities that we can call our own. We have put in a lot of hard work to make this community centre a reality. We can run our projects here.”

Asif added that the environmental benefits of the centre – it is fitted with solar panels that will power a nearby food bank – is a bonus for the area. The community centre is one of the first major improvements to St Raphael’s, which is seen as a target area for the council. 

It plans to spend £30 million on redeveloping the estate, as well as building 400 new homes. Residents were consulted about what improvements they would like to see, and they mentioned fly-tipping, overgrown meadows and the need for more regular rubbish collections as the issues that are important to them.

The council said it has installed a portable CCTV camera to target hotspot areas of anti-social behaviour and it is carrying out a campaign to crack down on fly-tippers. It has also removed six bollards from the estate after residents said they were causing problems, with another 77 scheduled to be taken down. 

Cllr Promise Knight, lead councillor for housing, homelessness and renters security at Brent Council, said: “This is the start of a huge positive transformation for St Raph’s. We are committed to you. And our promise is to deliver improved safety, housing and facilities, including a permanent community centre, over the next few years.”