Plans unveiled for a bigger and better Northcote Library

Published: Friday 27th January 17

Residents living in and around Northcote Road in Battersea are being asked for their views on plans to build a bigger and better library and replacement community hall in their neighbourhood.

An artist's impression of the new library

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 offering a wider range of library and community services just a stone’s throw away.

The plans would see a modern three storey library incorporating an exciting children’s library complete with buggy parking space, enlarged study accommodation, self serve kiosks for book loans, upgraded computer and digital learning areas and a coffee and drinks outlet next to the section containing newspapers, magazine and periodicals.

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 business suite on its second floor offering small local businesses state-of-the-art communications technologies, adaptable work spaces and meeting rooms for hire.

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.

Drop-in sessions are also being held at the library giving local residents the chance to ask questions face-to-face. These sessions will be held on the following date and times 

  • Thursday, February 9 between 5pm and 8pm
  • Saturday, February 11 from 10am to 2pm
  • Wednesday, February 22, 5pm to 8pm
  • Saturday, February 25 between 10am and 2pm.

Residents who cannot attend these drop-in sessions can call (020) 7566 6463 to find out more or email info@northcotelibrary.co.uk. Information is also available at http://www.northcotelibrary.co.uk/

* The popularity of Wandsworth’s library service – and the need to keep pace with the needs of local residents - was highlighted by recent figures which showed that last year was another record year for local libraries with the largest number of book issues in the capital. 

The figures from public service accountancy body CIPFA show that in 2015/2016, Wandsworth residents were London’s most dedicated library users, borrowing more than 1.4m books.

Service improvements and branch upgrades have been key to this success.

Earlsfield Library has been completely redecorated, Battersea Library has been upgraded and the children’s library at Tooting has been completely refurbished. Work has now started on a brand new Wandsworth Town  library while plans are being drawn up to replace another two branches at York Gardens and Roehampton with new state-of-the-art buildings offering a wider range of services. 

There has also been investment in new e-resources and software, new systems to help people get the latest books as quickly and easily as possible. Link-ups with other organisations including Citizens Advice Wandsworth have enabled people to access other public services in their local branch.

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Recent comments

Maybe there is a need to update the library but to tear it down to make a smaller library in an area where it is used by several schools and children and to also to make the community hall space to replace Chatham hall even smaller seems ridiculous. Although as taxpayers we are not having to pay anything for the new building due to the sale of the flats, we are still getting less for our money.
Barbara

1 March 2017

We are a young family of four (two parents and two young children) and we have always been using the existing library on Northcote Road. However, we have often found it difficult to use, due to limited opening times. The facilities are also dated and obsolete. There is also a strong need for more computers for both students and adults (for studying and working). Spaces are quite tight too. We therefore are in strong favor of the proposed plans for a new Library. The area proposed is not us use at the moment, so it would be very smart to use it for the new library. The area and its homes would benefit and increase their value too. We truly hope that this proposal will be approved. Thank you.
Margherita Elena Giannini

16 February 2017

As ever, WBC shows itself adept in drawing a smokescreen across the more unpleasant realities of what it does. As several have already noted, the hours at the existing library are already reduced, as they are here at Roehampton - now permanently closed every Tuesday, every Friday and every Saturday afternoon. Then the sordid reality of the Council building AND SELLING 17 flats from this site. No mention whatever of social housing, which is what should be being built on Council (read: our) land. Selling to whom ? For how much ? Like the Tileman House or 100 Putney Common 2-bed flats, £750k++ ? I really think Govindia would be better employed as a property spiv. That would at least be more honest . . . .
Robin N. Bishop

1 February 2017

It's a bit much to bang on about wonderful library services in Wandsworth when you have closed several and severely reduced the opening times of Northcote Road library and probably others as well.
Emma-Louise Bowers

30 January 2017

I think this is totally unnecessary. You could easily modernise the existing library. Love it or hate it, the library is a beautiful example of Brutalist Architecture. You plan to knock down the well loved Chatham Hall and destroy a children's playground to make way for this smaller library and then 3 storeys of flats above it, totally disrupting the light from neighbouring houses and the dust, air and traffic pollution will be immense. We are called Nappy Valley and it seems you aren't putting our children first and protecting the history of these iconic buildings. You could easily just put in new computers, furniture and a coffee shop in the existing and well loved library. You've done feasibility studies for this before.
AM

29 January 2017

A great idea, housed in a banal building. Why do architects no longer do delight, charm, and beauty - which is what people yearn for in their streetscapes?
Maritz Vandenberg

28 January 2017

This is ironic of Wandsworth Council given that the current Northcote Library is hardly ever open. Will the new library be open more often? What assurances will Wandsworth Council give that the library will have a decent community space to replace Chatham Hall? This is very important as Chatham Hall currently enables lots of community activities to take place, including yoga, tai chi and dance classes. It also houses a nursery/kindergarten. The classes are very popular for all age groups and should continue as Northcote Road is a great venue - safe and easy to get to for lots of Wandsworth residents. Not much point knocking buildings down if the new facility is open only sporadically too.
J.T. Walsh

27 January 2017

great idea - fills what is currently a dead/ugly space.
michael deacy

27 January 2017

I have used Northcote library for decades. I especially value the help of the experienced librarians. I can see benefits in these plans but underlying everything is whether the new library will actually be open - at the moment it is closed far too often. Improved facilities that are unusable are no use. Also it is essential that the library is still a place for silent reading and study. Mothers, children, people drinking coffee, coffee machines etc - OK but well away from the books and (I suppose) the banks of computers. And I hope there will still be a substantial selection of books, as now.
Chris Hardy

27 January 2017