Wandsworth Council is consulting on plans to build a bigger and better Northcote library and replacement community hall.
The council is currently holding an informal, preliminary stage consultation on proposals that could eventually see the existing Northcote Library replaced with a larger, better facility a short distance away.
The plans would see a new three storey library building built also including community space, a cafe and a business suite on its second floor offering small local businesses state-of-the-art communications technologies, adaptable work spaces and meeting rooms for hire.
This new library would be built almost directly opposite the existing one on land currently occupied by council-owned garages at Staplehurst Court and Chatham Hall.
The development would also include community space to replace that currently offered at Chatham Hall and introduce a new
If the plans were to proceed the current library would remain fully open to the public until the new one is ready to open its doors.
The council’s community services spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “We are holding these informal and very early stage discussions with local people to gauge the level of support for these plans.
“We have arranged some drop-in sessions at Northcote Library in the coming days and weeks so that residents can find out more about these proposals and then tell us what they think.
“Our intention is to provide a fantastic brand new modern library with a much greater range of services than is possible in the existing library building.
“The current library was built in 1969 and by today’s standards, is terribly inefficient in its use of space and its layout. At a time when demand for library services is growing, we want to improve and expand the facilities to better meet the meet the needs of local people.”
The cost of building the new library would be met by also constructing and selling 17 residential units spread across both sites. This would mean that local council tax payers would not have to pay a penny towards their new library.
Nine flats would be built as part of the new library development while another eight, plus retail space for two shops, would be provided on the existing library site.
Cllr Cook added: “This is a sensible and cost effective use of the council’s property portfolio. It means we can provide much needed new homes for Londoners plus a modern new library without having to raise council tax.
“At a time when many councils in London and elsewhere are closing down libraries and curtailing library services to save money we are looking to expand and improve our provision to give our residents a bigger and better Northcote library that’s fit for the 21st century.”
The current library building’s flaws include restricted access to its first floor children’s library, no room to safely and securely store buggies, no space to provide computer access on the ground floor, obsolete and inflexible shelving which does not make the best use of the available space, the building is poorly ventilated and lacking natural light and inadequate toilet and baby changing facilities.
The new residential accommodation will be car free as the area already boasts good transport links. This means people who move into these properties will not be eligible to buy parking permits so as not to add pressure on existing parking provision.
Information leaflets outlining the proposals are to be distributed throughout the area and there will be information boards installed at Northcote Library until Sunday, March 5.