Council pledges ‘formal and detailed’ Carnegie consultations

Library campaigners said school pupils had shown their support for the campaign by placing 'crime scene' tape around the dorr
Library campaigners said school pupils had shown their support for the campaign by placing ‘crime scene’ tape around the door

Plans for the future of the Carnegie library in Herne Hill will be on display from tomorrow in the nearby St Saviour’s Church on Herne Hill Road.

Library campaigners attacked what the council described in a flyer as a chance to give feedback and speak to local councillors about the future of the library as being both too brief and impossible for anyone with a regular job to attend.

The council said that after a planning application for the changes had been submitted at the end of this month, there would be a “formal and detailed” consultation with residents.

Carnegie exhibition flyerThe exhibition is open for just two days – from 9am to 1pm tomorrow (12 October) and from noon to 6pm on Thursday.

Laura Swaffield, chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries and a leading member of the Defend the 10 campaign, said: “The word ‘consultation’ is studiously avoided in the flyer.”

In a claim contested by the council, she said that, with the exception of plans for the Durning and Tate South Lambeth libraries, nobody in the borough had been consulted about the “hated ‘Culture2020’ plans to destroy four out of 10 libraries”.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council cabinet member for regeneration, business and culture, said: “All the information from this exhibition, and more, will be available online for everybody to see”.

The information is due to be available from this afternoon on the Lambeth council website.

Hopkins said that an exhibition about the Carnegie in June – which was also criticised by campaigners – “saw large numbers of people attend throughout the day”.

Once a planning application for the changes to the library building had been submitted at the end of this month, a “more formal and detailed consultation with residents” would take place.

He went on: “Many residents are already enjoying neighbourhood library services in both Waterloo and Upper Norwood, where libraries are now very successfully hosted by local community groups in partnership with the council.

“We are confident that the Carnegie building will be able to provide a strong offer for the community, including a library service, for many years ahead.”

Carnegie library doorSwaffield said the plans to build a gym in the Carnegie library to be run by its leisure provider Better (formerly GLL) would involve spending £700,000 on excavating the basement to accommodate it.

“However, that won’t stop GLL being given the run of most of the ground floor for ‘yoga and higher energised classes such as body pump’, she added.

She said that at the June exhibition, GLL staff and top-ranking Lambeth staff had no answers to questions like:

Where’s your business plan?

Where’s your market research?

How is this supposed to work financially?

Lambeth council said that consultations on the Culture 2020 plans ran between January and April 2015 and included 1,648 self-completion questionnaires, 207 written responses, 513 representative on-street surveys, 451 surveys completed by young people, seven public events attended by over 200 people, nine focus groups with particular equalities groups and 13 other meetings.

The Blog asked Better/GLL for comment but, as usual, there was no response.


  1. The Council is shifting resources from a well-loved and well-used library for which there is proven demand (and which they have a statutory duty to provide) into construction of a gym for which there is no evidence of any clamour on a site for which it is a poor fit. Many people think there is a great risk that the presence of the gym in the building, albeit buried in the basement, will be incompatible with continued use as a library. Installing plant machinery and ventilation ducts in the garden many fear will destroy the serenity of the existing garden, which is a much loved community centre in its own right. They are measuring predicted decible levels at the perimeter of the site, but that disregards what is contained within the site itself. This seems to many users as a wildly extravagant and indeed risky and unwanted initiative at a time of supposed enormous budget constraints. That said, there is a strong community base which is determined to preserve the Carnegie LIbrary in Herne Hill as a library and as the vibrant local community centre that it has become over the last ten years especially but indeed since its foundation in 1906, with many imaginative and ambitious plans to make the best of an awkward situation and with much promise for a better future. I urge anyone who is reading this to join the Carnegie Library Association CIO and help make this happen.

  2. Digging out the basement with the foundations of such an old building. Something tells me the two don’t quite sit right. Let’s hope I am wrong and where we have seen a couple of houses collapse due to extensive building works and basement dig outs, hopefully this building stays upright with no foundation movement or cracks appearing.

Comments are closed.