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.
* 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.