Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

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jenwaken
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Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby jenwaken » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:12 pm

The council has new plans for Northcote Road. These include demolishing BOTH our familiar icon, Northcote Library, and the thriving community centre across the road, Chatham Hall. The new plans for a new library and community space are modest in scope, reducing the available space for us, the residents of Wandsworth, and including retail space and 17 flats spread over both sites. The architecture is uninspiring and the build will cost us two loved buildings, close a busy oversubscribed nursery (ABC nursery), as well as impact the streetscape and neighbours of the new project(s).

Sure it would be nice to have a new library, but actually, most residents seem to feel a renovation of the old one would be just fine, especially given the library isn't open but four days a week as it is (new plans don't address this!). Chatham Hall is a lovely place and we don't need more nondescript modern brick 3 story buildings filling in any possible gap. Clearly, money is tight these days, but we can do better than this. The council is only offering us one plan to comment on. Upon questioning, they only will say this is the only possible way to finance any kind of renovation. I'd like to see the numbers, but this hasn't been forthcoming.

So right now is our only time to act! The consultation period ends soon, 11 March. Please, take a moment to fill in the online survey by the council at http://www.northcotelibrary.co.uk
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runningmummy
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby runningmummy » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:40 pm

I am actually all for a new children's library and tearing down the old one. The prospect is quite exciting. The old library building is a monstrosity and not fit for purpose. Replacing the library with a nice looking building and some great shops will improve the curb appeal enormously. I would really welcome the new modern children's library for my children to go to. I think some of the plans were really forward thinking such as having an interactive learning aspect and additional activity specific areas. I love going to the library but would certainly visit that a lot more than the old one and I won't have to look at the ugly old library building. I appreciate though that everyone has a different stake in this and point of view and that is just my view from my side of the fence.
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jenwaken
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby jenwaken » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:09 pm

I'm just not sure we are getting all that much. The floor space is reduced. Chatham Hall will be gone. I think we can do better and I'm not willing to take the council's word for it that this is the only way possible. I would love a better library, as well, but we shouldn't just accept something because it's all that's on offer.
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Buddybear
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Buddybear » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:31 pm

I am a local resident and have lived in the area for 20 years now. I will be not be directly affected in any way by the proposed development (I do not live in the nearby streets, all my kids are already in school etc...) but I am against the development for a number of reasons. I actually feel hugely, hugely sad about it - it will lead to the loss of a significant amount of under-utilized community space in an area which does not have have enough low-cost community space.

I went to the meeting at Honeywell School last night and it was really interesting for a number of reasons.

1. Library building

My initial view, like many people, I guess is that it is pretty hideous and a bit run down and that a brand new well-resourced library would be a good thing. One of the speakers yesterday said that she had spent years going to Wandsworth council with ideas in how to re-invigorate the library and make it much more of a 'local hub' to be used by young and old - health visitor appointments, homework hubs, really good ideas -very similar to the ideas that have been proposed for the new library itself. She said that she was pretty much met with a brick wall and it was impossible to accomplish anything. At the initial consultation, one of the librarians pointed out how light the building was (it has big windows on all sides) and that as a purpose built library it had actually been pretty well designed internally. A local dance teacher also commented about how difficult it was to actually utilise the library (she ran dance classes there which were then cancelled without her knowledge when she was on maternity leave). The library itself also has very limited hours now - it is really hardly ever open and if I was being slightly cynical I would suggest that Wandsworth Council were trying to run it down to then financially justify any development plans.

2. Chatham Hall and Playground

For those who have never been inside this building then please go and take a look. Externally, it is not very pleasing but inside it is very, very light with open eaves. It needs new toilets and a kitchen and a bit of love . It has a playground outside it which is currently used by the nursery but it could potentially be updated and open to all. It is a big space which can be rented at very little cost - I do not know of any other similar spaces within the borough.

3. The garages next to the chicken shop on Northcote road

There are a group of garages on Northcote road, next to the chicken shop by Chatham Hall which could very easily be knocked down and a new-build shop and flats added next to them (so a victorian shop width). The revenue received from this development would easily be enough to update the library and Chatham Hall and would not adversely affect anyone.

Whatever your view please make it known on http://www.northcotelibrary.co.uk

There is also a Change petition against the proposed development.

https://www.change.org/p/save-chatham-h ... evelopment
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Goldhawk
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Goldhawk » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:27 pm

The new library would be 697 sq m vs the old 605 sq m (with 35 sqm given to the bookshop on the ground floor)
However the entire 3rd floor is the business suite
From the plans on the website it appears that approx. 25% of the library space will be given over to the business suite

At a guess this means the new library will only be around 488 sq m = a 20 % reduction in space

I like the suggestion of redeveloping the old garages alone
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boonkoh
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby boonkoh » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:29 pm

Goldhawk wrote:The new library would be 697 sq m vs the old 605 sq m (with 35 sqm given to the bookshop on the ground floor)
However the entire 3rd floor is the business suite
From the plans on the website it appears that approx. 25% of the library space will be given over to the business suite

At a guess this means the new library will only be around 488 sq m = a 20 % reduction in space

I like the suggestion of redeveloping the old garages alone
I'm for a reduction in library space. They are less used these days so it makes sense to downsize and save on running costs.

Financing this new building through a retail space and new flats is smart. I wouldn't support the council having to take money from elsewhere in the budget to pay for renewing or redeveloping the library.

This scheme also helps the council to meet its new housing targets.

What I would like to see though is a commitment to use the yearly rent proceeds of the retail unit to help fund the yearly running costs of the library, and keep it open 6 or 7 days a week.
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Wandsworth Council
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Wandsworth Council » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:18 pm

The council's cabinet member for community services Cllr Jonathan Cook has written to residents living in this part of Battersea. Here is the text of that letter.

Dear Resident

You may be aware of proposals to build a new Northcote Library and improved new community hall, ensuring local people have upgraded facilities better suited to meeting local needs.

Unfortunately there is some misinformation circulating locally that misrepresents what is being proposed. I am therefore writing to encourage you to look at the project website at www.northcotelibrary.co.uk or visit the exhibition at the library before March 11 so that you can judge these plans for yourself.

The aim is to build a bigger and better local library with an improved children’s section, alongside a new and improved community centre, able to offer much better accommodation to the groups that currently use it.

The existing library was built in the 1960s and is nearing the end of its natural life. It has many design flaws, offers no ground floor space for computers, is poorly ventilated, has inadequate natural lighting, obsolete toilet and baby changing facilities, no “parking” space for buggies and restricted shelf space.

The proposed new library would offer 697 square metres of usable space compared with the existing 605 sqm. The new children’s section would be 30 sqm larger than at present while the general library area would be about 40 sqm larger than is currently available. It would also have dedicated space for buggies.

The community space at Chatham Hall is contained within a much older building and will soon require extensive refurbishment to prevent it falling into a state of disrepair. The proposed improvements would see the building revamped, with its main hall remaining the same size, with an upgraded kitchen and new toilets.

The council is working with all the groups that currently use Chatham Hall and those who rent the adjacent garages to identify alternative accommodation - should these plans proceed. Our expectation would be for all the groups who use the community hall to return once the building works were finished, if they so wish.

The cost of construction would be met by building homes on the upper levels of the two sites, meaning local residents would not have to fund these improvements through increased council tax bills. The scheme has been drawn up to be cost neutral, generating sufficient money to fund the construction costs. The council would not be making any profit from the scheme.

We calculate that in order to raise these funds, nine flats would need to be built as part of the new library development while another eight, plus retail space for two small shops, would be needed on the existing library site. These new homes would be built to the same size and scale as their neighbours. People purchasing or renting these flats would not be eligible for parking permits, so that there is no added pressure on parking provision in the area.

We have also considered whether or not the existing library could simply be refurbished to bring it up to modern standards, but this would be prohibitively expensive and would still leave a small, cramped building with sub-standard amenities. There is no budget available to pay for such a project.

These proposals are at a very early stage and nothing has been decided. Whether or not this scheme proceeds will depend largely on the results of the public consultation, and I would therefore strongly urge you to contribute to this process. To make sure your voice is heard please visit www.northcotelibrary.co.uk.

In summary, at a time when other councils are axing their library network, we want to improve and expand our facilities in a building that’s fit for the 21st century.

Yours faithfully

Councillor Jonathan Cook
Cabinet Member for Community Services
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Buddybear
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Buddybear » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:58 pm

Thank you Wandsworth Council for your update.

There is a piece of land currently occupied by garages next to the chicken shop which could be used to build a victorian shop's width of retail and residential space. I had a look at the plot today and it is pretty big. With the proceeds of the sale I am sure that it would be possible to upgrade the kitchen and toilet facilities in chatham hall. and also update the current library.

In this way, the playground in Chatham Hall would be preserved and could even be updated for all the community to use. We need more outdoor space for children in Wandsworth, not less.

While the current library may not to be everybody's cup of tea, it was purpose built and is surrounded by windows on all sides- therefore to say that is does not have any natural light is a bit disingenuous. In addition, there is loads of buggy space at the foot of the stairs. It does need a new lift but that shouldn't be expensive.

Whether you agree with the consultation or not please register your views at northcotelibrary.co.uk before 11 March.
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pie81
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby pie81 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:07 pm

My concern with this proposal is that Wandsworth is taking two public sites and ending up with only one. The other will be sold into private hands forever.

In doing so it is selling off one of its "crown jewels" i.e. a large plot of land right on Northcote Road. This can only be done once, once sold it is sold forever.

I strongly believe the council should look for solutions where it retains both sites for public use - at least on the ground floor level. We don't need more shop units on Northcote Road, there are plenty that are empty as it is. Why not rebuild both sites with a public facility at ground level? One side library, one side community hall - perhaps with a new playground open to the public at weekends as a previous poster suggested (how wonderful would that be). Flats above both sites and where the garages are should be enough to finance that, I'd have thought.

The current proposal seems remarkably unimaginative. Given it's proposing to sell off a valuable public site forever, I would like to see more done to persuade us all that that is worth the sacrifice. (Or preferably, as I say, a proposal which doesn't sacrifice so much public space).

To be honest I'm a little bit skeptical about where the cash raised will be going. I'm not convinced it will all be used to finance the rebuild. I suspect some may be going to cover funding gaps elsewhere so that Wandsworth can keep its "never raised taxes" badge. If that's true then it's very short termist and selling off long term public assets for short term political gain.
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Goldhawk
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Goldhawk » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:21 pm

It would be nice if the council would address our questions/comments
The new library will be smaller - perhaps the councillor would like to look at the plans that the council has published

Refurb the current library = yes
Selling the site = no
Private flats = no

I wouldn't mind paying a few more quid in council tax for a refurbished library and some new social housing (with no right to buy)
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Buddybear
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Buddybear » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:11 pm

Please see the response below from the Change Petition to the letter posted earlier in the thread. To sign the petition please go to https://www.change.org/p/save-chatham-h ... velopment/

Cllr Jonathan Cook has sent out a letter on 3rd March highlighting “misinformation circulating locally” about Northcote Library development.

Yet again the Council is wasting our Council tax money on this mailing, to force upon local residents their extreme one-sided view containing misinformation. Here are some examples:

1. “a bigger library at 697 sqm” - not true as this includes the money-spinning business suites; actually a smaller usable library.

2. “improved community centre” - ok it will be new, but the layout is worse for the nursery and the playground would be lost forever.

3. the flaws of the existing library -
i) "inadequate natural lighting” - he is referring to the basement room; the vast majority of the library has massive south and west facing windows.
ii) “no parking space for buggies” - there is unused space to the left of the entrance where mums leave buggies

4. “the Council is working with all the groups that use Chatham Hall” - in reality the Council is working against the users; the nursery for example is exasperated with their rough treatment.

5. “the new homes would be built to the same size and scale as their neighbours” - the tallest houses around Chatham Hall are 6 metres high; the new flats would be 9 metres high.

Please remember to ask friends and family to complete the Council questionnaires.

Thank you for your continued support.
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Flowermummy
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Flowermummy » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:53 am

To Wandsworth Council and Cllr Jonathan Cook:
You mention misinformation circulating locally but offer no evidence that the well articulated concerns of our community are misinformation.
You must be aware by now of all the issues mentioned by buddybear, however you address none of these in your letter.
Please remember you work for the people of Wandsworth and please do not patronise us!
You need to engage in the debate with solid arguments, facts and figures, and NOT by branding our concerns as misinformation!!!
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jenwaken
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby jenwaken » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:13 am

Alex Glassbrook from Wandsworth Lib Dems wrote the council yesterday and made some excellent points. Please read to understand the concerns many local residents have with the project and with the way it is being handled.
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Flowermummy
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby Flowermummy » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:22 pm

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matilda
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Re: Save Northcote Library and Chatham Hall!

Postby matilda » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:46 pm

The title of this thread is misleading I think? The proposal isn't to get rid of a library but just to re-design a better one. I borrow books from there and it's a horrible space to be in - it just doesn't work. It's cold and very uninviting and not somewhere you'd want to linger. I'm in and out of there as quickly as I can be.

As for that eye-sore across the road from the library, Chatham House, it's somewhere I walk past as quickly as possible. So ugly! Looks like the space was a victim of ww2 German bombing and a hastily constructed and badly designed concrete box went up in place of whatever was there originally.
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