We began our 19th year with an AGM which, despite being off-site, was very well attended. Over 80 people filled St Saviour’s including 79 Friends and 40 members of Carnegie Library Association, whose AGM followed on.
The Chair’s report outlined the events and activities staged during the past year to keep the spirit of the library alive following the closure and subsequent 10 day Occupation. Consistent campaigning to reopen the library and support for the displaced clubs and groups continues, though Lambeth councillors and officers have been distant and largely uncommunicative.
The library is now being cleared of all books, shelves and furniture, including items belonging to the Friends. While sorting these, we have seen the dreadful damage caused by water ingress, which has not been repaired since last summer and which could have been prevented had the gutters been cleared in spring. Images of the damage are
The first anniversary of closure, 1 April will be marked by a gathering on the library steps at 1.00pm to celebrate the library at the heart of our community and all that we miss and aim to reinstate. Expect music, rousing speeches, colourful costumes and fun. Come and take part, then surround the building as a symbolic gesture of protection and love.
That event will begin a year of action, led by our newly elected committee, to show we are not giving up and not going away.
With the library closed, we are unable to browse reference material or borrow books about people or events commemorated this year. For the record, here are some examples:
Significant historical events include the Russian Revolution (1917). Among births to note are Italian painter Giotto (1267), Dutch Humanist Erasmus (1467), Jonathan Swift (1667), David Garrick and Horace Walpole (1717), Henry David Thoreau (1817), novelists Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy (1867). Also born in 1867 were dramatist Luigi Pirandello, children’s book illustrator Arthur Rackman and sports coach & Herne Hill resident Sam Mussabini. Births in 1917 include Anthony Burgess, Arthur C Clarke, Eric Hobsbawm, Carson McCullers and John F Kennedy.
Jane Austen died in 1817, as did opera singer & Herne Hill resident Anna Storace. Poet Charles Baudelaire died 1867; actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and WW1 poets Edward Thomas and Arthur West died in 1917. Notable deaths in 1967 include author and editor J R Ackerley, who was born in Herne Hill, playwrights Joe Orton and Elmer Rice, poets John Masefield, Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg and Harlem Renaissance poet and dramatist Langston Hughes.
The Friends are holding their AGM at St. Saviour's Church Hall, Herne Hill rd., on Thursday 16th March. The meeting starts at 6.30pm. Committee member elections and reports on the year will be followed by discussion on the way forward to restore the Carnegie library to full operation for the community - taking into account that GLL's planning application to develop a gym at the Carnegie has now been approved by Lambeth Council.
After the Friends AGM, there will also be the first AGM of the Carnegie Library Association (carnegielibraryassociation.org.uk), the charitable trust supported by the Friends and Carnegie user groups to manage the library building.
Carnegie Library Association has endorsed the detailed objections made by Friends of Carnegie Library and Herne Hill Society to the proposals and added a few more.
Additionally, in an attempt to be as constructive as possible, the Association's trustees have indicated requirements which, if satisfied, might render the presence of a gym tolerable. These are:
• The ground and first floors would not be affected by the gym or disturbance from it.
• There would not be any intrusion into the Reading and Wildlife Garden and there would be continued access to the garden for wheelchair users.
• The gym would make a worthwhile contribution to the running costs of the building and the Association would be compensated for loss of revenue from the basement.
• Membership of the gym would be restricted to local people and the opening hours limited to times acceptable to the neighbours.
Further details are in a copy of the Association's letter to Lambeth and its attachment, both of which are available here.
The Herne Hill Society has also objected to the planning application.
You can read the full text of the objection here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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
The Carnegie Library Association, which includes the Friends as a member organisation along with other library user groups and stakeholders, has submitted a bid for asset transfer of the Carnegie Library. The bid, and details of the CLA constitution and trustees can be seen at the CLA website: carnegielibraryassociation.org.uk.
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:
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.
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
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.