Planning and Listed Building Applications

Applications for Planning Permission and Listed Building consent have been made to change the use of Carnegie Library and carry out extensive works to the building and on the Reading and Wildlife Garden. If these were to go ahead they would effectively exclude any library or other community use of the building or garden and it would be only a fee-paying gym.

The Friends are therefore asking all supporters of the library to email the Council objecting to the applications by the closing date for objections, which is Monday 12th December. Below is a list of important points that it would be helpful for you to include. If you do not have time to write something yourself then please just copy and paste the list into your email. This is an exercise where the number of objectors is at least as important as what the objectors write. Every member of your household should therefore email separately if at all possible. If you can persuade others to email as well that would be even more helpful.

Your email should be sent to planning@lambeth.gov.uk and must to be considered include:
1. Carnegie Library SE24 0AG
2. Applications numbered 16/06270/FUL and 16/06271/LB
3. Your name
4. The address where you live

Important points to make are:
• The Traffic Assessment included in the applications indicates that a substantial proportion of the customers for the gym will come from outside the area and the proposed opening times mentioned in the applications are 6am to 10pm weekdays and 7.30am to 10pm at weekends, with the possibility of even longer hours. All of this is completely inappropriate to the wholly residential area in which the library is situated. Residents should not have to suffer the disturbance of loud voices in the streets and car doors slamming. The Assessment says many of the gym users will travel to and from it by train or bus but this is not credible and there would be increased pressure on the limited amount of parking space in the roads round the gym.
• The proposed excavation of the basement is not deep enough to accommodate gym uses in which the participants jump or raise up their arms. It is proposed to hold exercise classes, including "higher energised" ones, on the ground floor but a group of people jumping up and down in any one of those rooms would generate vibration and noise which would preclude the use of the other rooms.
• Lambeth's Planning policies require construction on back gardens to leave at least 70% unbuilt on and all construction to be a positive response to what is there already. The proposed construction would take up more than half the Reading and Wildlife Garden, leaving only a strip separated from the building, and destroy mature trees. The garden is a public one and the setting of the Listed library building. It should be left alone. If construction is necessary it should be in keeping with the building and take place on the van park.
• The information provided so far has been grossly inadequate. The applications have been given only minimal publicity. They are available only on the Council's website and then only intermittently. The application documents repeatedly assert that implementing the proposals would "aid and support" the building but no details are provided. There is no indication of where the exercise classes would take place. We are told that this would be in community spaces but all the accommodation has this label and nowhere is set aside for library or other community uses. There is nothing about measures to contain vibration or noise, about air conditioning on any floor of the building or about smell inside or outside the building.

The effect of the works on the stability of the building, asset transfers leases and property rights are not Planning considerations and therefore have to be ignored in the Planning process. We therefore suggest that you do not mention them.

The Friends have sent Lambeth a letter setting out very detailed objections to the proposals and giving chapter and verse for Lambeth Planning policies which the proposals contravene. Copies of the letter and its appendices are here. However, the Friends appreciate that few readers will have the time, patience and dedication to go through all this or the applications on Lambeth's website. We are therefore providing what we think are the two most important documents, namely, an extract from the Transport Assessment and the proposed layout of the basement and garden areas.

Spirit of Libraries Winter Fair, Saturday 3rd December

Since 1999 the Friends have held an annual
Winter Fair. Over the years it became one of
the most popular events in the Herne Hill
calendar. With the library closed we cannot
stage a full-scale fair; but we will hold a
modified ‘Spirit of Libraries’ event to afford
some seasonal cheer and remind everyone we
are still here,
and organise opposition to the new planning application.

Come along on Saturday 3 December from
11.00–3.00 at Herne Hill United Church Hall
and Garden Room, Red Post Hill. There will of
course be our famous tea & cake stall,
community stalls, craft stalls, a raffle and other
delights.

Reunite with old friends and meet new ones for
a true community celebration. Make a
resolution to return to the library next year,
reviving the Winter Fair and all activities.

4pm: A planning application has now been filed to make drastic,
irreversible changes to the Carnegie building. Public meeting to
discuss action.

Please sign up now to show your support for saving the library for the community!

The Carnegie Library Association has been set up by the Friends, in partnership with other library user groups, in order to apply to Lambeth for control of the library and its grounds through an asset transfer process. The Carnegie Library Association's aim is to reinstate the professionally-run library along with the community activities which were there before, plus new ones compatible with the library. Maximum use would be made of the whole building, including uses to raise money to subsidize the cost of providing the library service. It is really important that we are able to demonstrate as much local support as possible, particularly before the deadline for the bid which is 28th October. Please sign up here:

Full name
Address
Telephone
Email

The Association is registered as a democratic Charitable Incorporated Organisation with limited liability and membership is free until the first AGM in March 2017, so you are not making any financial commitment.

PUBLIC MEETINGS ON THE FUTURE OF CARNEGIE LIBRARY

With our partners in the Carnegie Library Association CIO, the Friends are arranging two public meetings to discuss plans for the future. The announcement leaflet is
here

Please come on either THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER at ST SAVIOUR’S PARISH HALL 6.30- 9.30PM or SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER at HERNE HILL UNITED CHURCH HALL 2.00 – 5.00PM.

Survey forms are being delivered where possible and will also be available at the meetings for local residents, community groups and desk space hirers (former or potential).

The survey is online here

Alternatively, the survey forms are here: Residents survey,
Community groups survey,
Desk space survey. The forms can be filled in and emailed to us.
Please take part and have your say.
Please also help to spread the word by displaying the poster announcing the public meetings here.

Correspondence with the Leader of the Council

Both the Herne Hill Society and Village Ward Labour Party are concerned about the library. Both organisations wrote to the Leader, Lib Peck, and received replies which, at a quick glance, might appear satisfactory.
Combining the information provided in the replies with that from the June exhibition, the earlier correspondence with Lib on this site and the official report, the situation can be summarised as follows:


Child Protection

The main floor of the building, where books and computers will be located, will be left unstaffed most of the time.

Library Spaces

Study spaces would be provided each year in the run up to the school examinations but no space would be set aside for a library at other times. What the official report calls a "small selection of books" and some computers will be provided in a room used for non-library purposes. As at present, it will be possible to order books from other Lambeth Libraries and the borough as a whole will continue to have as many books in total as it did before our library closed.

Staffing

Library staff would not be based at the building but one or more would visit for up to two hours most days and, in this time, he or she or they would be expected to conduct group activities.

Running Costs

The library is costing more closed than it would if it had stayed open but this was not considered when making the decision to close it.

Timing

When the building will be open to the public again is unknown but it will not be before Summer next year and might be much later. The first step, preparing a planning application, has not yet been taken.

The correspondence consists of:
• Letter from Herne Hill Society to Lib Peck dated 6th May 2016
HHS to Peck
• Her reply dated 24th May 2016
Peck to HHS
• Letter from Village Ward Labour Party to Lib Peck sent in May before her reply to the Herne Hill Society was received by them.
Village Ward to Peck
• Her reply to Village Ward Labour Party.
Peck to Village Ward

WHO’S WHO

Some recipients of a four-page orange-coloured leaflet recently thought it came from Friends of Carnegie Library. It was NOT from the Friends, nor from any other supporters of our library. Our bulletins always carry our name and logo as above. The orange colour and strap line “The Next Chapter” are used by Carnegie Community Trust and its predecessors with links to Lambeth Council. Below we summarise who is who in relation to the library.

Carnegie Library Users Consultative Group comprises Friends of Carnegie Library and eight other groups who used the library.

We want reinstatement of our library as it was, including:

• Opening for at least 36 hours a week.
• Welcoming and knowledgeable library staff.
• The spaces we had, which accommodated adult and children's libraries and numerous group activities compatible with the library.
• The minimum number of books to offer a reasonable choice for all ages and tastes, that is, about 20,000.

Almost any reduction in hours, staff, space or book stock could be expected to reduce greatly the use of the library.

Carnegie Library Herne Hill Association is a democratically accountable Charitable Incorporated Organisation formed by the Users Consultative Group to take a transfer of the library from Lambeth Council. If you are in the Friends or another member of the Group you will shortly receive an invitation to apply for membership of the Association. If you are not in one of these groups please consider joining the Association anyway. In the first instance, please email CLACIOmember@gmail.com or write to the Association at 18 Herne Hill, London SE24 9QT stating your full name and address. Membership will be free until the first AGM in March 2017.

Lambeth Council first tried to close the library and sell it for redevelopment as flats in 1999. The Friends then formed to revitalise and promote the library, and led a successful campaign against closure.

Greenwich Leisure Limited operates most of the Council's Leisure Centres. Lambeth plan to grant them a rent-free lease of the library and then spend millions of pounds on structural alterations to the building and massively subsidising GLL's use of it until the 2018/19 financial year. The use would be:
• A gym in the basement.
• Exercise classes on the ground floor.
• Hiring spaces on the ground floor to local groups.
• A small selection of books and some computers somewhere on the ground floor. N.B. Lambeth call these books and computers a Neighbourhood Library. There would not be a room set aside for library use.
Under this plan the ground floor would be left unstaffed much of the time, which would preclude use by unaccompanied children, and few other vulnerable people would want to use such an apparently unsafe space.

Carnegie Community Trust consists of five individuals close to the politicians who control Lambeth Council. They originally came up with the idea of excavating the basement for a gym and their plans appear to be much the same as GLL's though they suggest that a room could be set aside for library use provided it is locked and inaccessible except when library staff are present. Lambeth are offering to provide library staff for up to 12 hours a week.

A detailed comparison of Carnegie Community Trust with Carnegie Library Association is
here.

Doing the Sums

Lambeth's reasons for closing our library on 31st March were not financial.

Lambeth insist that our library was closed at the end of the 2015/16 financial year to save money. I cannot see any justification for this assertion. Except for trivial savings on utilities there has not so far been any reduction in expenditure. But Lambeth are paying for a security guard and foregoing the hire fees paid by desk space users, a total of about £2150 a week.

Before the closure the number of staff employed by Lambeth Libraries was reduced from 120 to 80, in response to the cuts; but the closure has not yet resulted in any further reduction. Eventually there might be a reduction equivalent to the three staff in our library, saving about £2,800 a week. But by then more desk spaces would no doubt have been in use if the library had remained open. There was also other income from the library and Lambeth have the cost of relocating the Home Visit Service. At most the saving from closing our library will be trivial.
Calculations of the above income and expenditure figures are here.
Stephen Carlill