GLL submits plans for Carnegie gym

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

Lambeth council’s leisure provider GLL has submitted its plans for a gym in the basement of the Carnegie library in Herne Hill and the council has said that two competing plans to take over the assets of the library will be “independently assessed”.

Two groups have submitted formal applications to the council to run the building through an asset transfer process.

The council said it was planning to provide a “neighbourhood library service” in the building towards the end of of next year “alongside other community uses”.

Business plans from both of the groups seeking to take over the library’s assets “recognise the wider range of uses for the building as essential in maintaining a library service into the future,” said the council.

The council said it had worked closely with both groups – the Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) and the Carnegie Library Association (CLA) – and said their submissions would be independently assessed over the coming months. The CLA said it had received £9,355 from the council to help it to draw up its plans.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, council cabinet member for business, regeneration and culture, said: “It’s great news that the next important steps in the future of Carnegie Library have been achieved and we can now move forward.

“Both community groups have accepted the benefits of introducing a wider range of activities to the building, raising extra revenue to keep the library in Herne Hill for many years to come.

“I’m confident that when the building reopens it will be a great community hub offering something for everyone, including a great neighbourhood library.”

The planning application is expected be determined early next year.

The council said the new neighbourhood library in the Carnegie building would have longer opening hours than the previous full libray.

It would have “a similar level of bookstock” as previously.

Also available would be DVDs, audiobooks, large print books, IT facilities, study space, self-service book lending and activities including a weekly under-fives session.

The council said librarians would be on site for at least two hours per day.

It said similar neighbourhood libraries, run in partnership with community groups, had been opened successfully in Waterloo and Upper Norwood

Council library policies.


  1. Alas, Anonymous, that’s not the case.
    The excellent library management put forward a simple scheme to keep all 10 libraries fully functioning, while making ALL the savings required.
    It was not even looked at.

    Instead came the daft idea to hand over library buildings to GLL to turn into gyms COSTING £4 MILLION. And making LESS THAN HALF the required savings.
    Each building was to get a much reduced library space, with NO STAFF. The council’s own assessment said that many people – infants, schoolchildren, families, students, old people, benefits claimants, those on low incomes, elderly, disabled etc etc would be badly disadvantaged by having no staff to help them.

    The simple funding sources identified by the library management were whisked away,
    The whole thing was rushed through Cabinet with no publicity at all.

    Public pressure, and the threat of legal action, obliged Lambeth to consider the scheme – a community/staff trust – again.
    The plan had to be hastily re-written to take account of the Cabinet’s financial sleight of hand.
    It STILL made exactly the same savings as the GLL plan in the short term, and MORE in the long term.
    The council said it needed more work.
    Yep. It would take about six months. It could have been in place months ago.

    Meanwhile the GLL plan is in disarray. It is way behind schedule, and will still cost about £4m.

    Carnegie & Minet libraries have been pointlessly closed since April 1. They are still racking up the same costs in rates, utilities etc, plus a massive extra bill for security. Far more than keeping them open would have cost.
    Current plans would see them maybe re-open (as gyms) at the end of 2017. A fortune will have been wasted by then – and 2 of our most deprived communities will have had no library at all – even an unstaffed fake one -for about 20 months.
    So, Anonymous, it’s not about money.
    What is IS about we cannot imagine.

  2. Whilst agree that the tory government cutting funding to Lambeth is a terrible thing, I reluctantly have to say that I don’t really understand some of the vitriol that is directed at this project.
    Yes I agree that funding public libraries is important and I wish that carnegie could stay as if was, but I do feel that if self funding as a gym/ community space/ library is what’s required to allow Lambeth to keep providing front line services and keep people away from food banks/ enable the elderly to have carers visit often enough then I think it’s not a bad idea.
    The Government are cutting funding and Lambeth are doing the best they can (cancelling the fireworks etc)
    There are places where council money is needed more.
    Am I the only one who feels like this?

  3. Those who don’t know or care what made Carnegie Library a thriving, well used & loved place are trying to impose their notion of a ‘community hub/healthy living centre’. But nanny doesn’t know best. The Friends and our partners in Carnegie Library Association know what works and doesn’t and what people want and need. We have always worked to revitalise the library and widen its use, and now aim to build on the former success. If our hands are not tied by inappropriate, damaging interventions, we will deliver.

  4. Librarians on site for 2hours a day! Unbelievable… Who’s is going to run the library is then? The sport instructors?

  5. “community groups have accepted the benefits of introducing a wider range of activities to the building,”
    Tha arrogance of this statement shows that the council’s contempt for community groups, those who use the library and those who want to see the vibrant centre to our community maintained. The Friends of Carnegie library have been running activities and groups in Carnegie library for 19 years. To say that groups have not “accepted the need” for other activities, as if this is an idea that has jumped out of Lambeth Council’s head and which they have been desperately trying to get the local yokels to get on board with is ludicrous and sadly typical of the council’s overwhelming hostile attitude to residents of Lambeth.

    Since Lambeth council’s ruling cabinet is composed overwhelmingly of white professional people, exactly those who use libraries the least, it is perhaps unsurprising that they cannot see the need of libraries to those less fortunate. However, since they preside over the most racially unequal borough in the UK, one would hope they might seek to fund and resource those activities which are used by black and minority groups.
    Instead, they continue to ridicule and dismiss library supporters.

    The building is lit and heated 24 hours a day. Presumably rates are being paid and security guards also. The council are then spending more to keep residents locked out of a flourishing community hub than it would cost to run it. Their contempt for any effort at self help, self sufficiency or community activity, all of which are enshrined in a library, is clear.

  6. Lambeth is obviously trying to rush this through as fast as possible, exploiting the Christmas break to give local people the minimum possible time to defend themselves – just as they rushed through the original crazy plan to turn libraries into gyms, with no publicity at all.

    This time they have been forced to issue some basic info, by repeated requests for over a year. So they know that four surveys have found that a gym is the last thing most people want in the Carnegie building. They know their two exhibitions have been greeted with horror and anger by most visitors – plus a host of basic questions they can’t answer.

    Still no business plan, still no market research, still no inforrnation about how this is supposed to work financially.
    Still the absurd contention that a ‘library’ reduced to a fraction of its former size can still provide exactly the same stock,space and activities. Still the plan to leave it completely unstaffed nearly all the time. That’s not a library. That’s not even a safe hangout place for children (Carnegie was the busiest children’s library in the whole borough).

    What’s new is that the crass plans to instal a gym in the basement (because nobody wants it anywhere in the building) involve wrecking the beautiful garden, created and funded by local people, that forms an integral part of the building’s attractiveness to visitors.
    They want to fill it with ventilation and other plant, add a garish new glassed entrance block, fell three of the four mature trees and kill most of the shrubs. This knocks on the head any real chance of “introducing a wider range of activities to the building, raising extra revenue…”

    The biggest question remains: Why on earth is Lambeth so determined to waste millions forcing an unwanted gym into a beautiful listed building that was a very successful library?

    Defend the 10 (

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