CARNEGIE COMMUNITY TRUST STATEMENT ON OFFICE PLANS FOR LIBRARY ROOMS

Carnegie Community Trust’s planning statement reads as follows:

  1. Context

Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 local authorities are legally obliged to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service” that serves both adults and children who live, work or are in full time study.

Carnegie Library is a Grade II listed Edwardian Public Building in Lambeth (English Heritage Ref: 19.472 situated in Herne Hill. It is structurally sound and a number of maintenance needs have been addressed during the recent closure. The purpose of the planning application is to ensure that there is appropriate consent to develop activities within the building that will secure the long term future of the building as a public asset.  

Carnegie Community Trust was established as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in 2015 with the explicit aim of preserving the Carnegie Library building as a centre of learning, culture and arts for the people of Herne Hill and surrounding wards.

Since 2011 LambethCouncil has been required to make very high savings in the Lambeth Libraries budget. Alongside this Lambeth have developed strategies for gaining optimum benefit for the community from Library buildings including strategies for income generation whilst retaining a library service/provision.

In 2014 applications were approved for two changes of use to allow two rooms (ground and first floor) in the Carnegie Library building to be used as office space under the management of Whirled Cinema Ltd.

This consent was approved initially for two years. Whirled Cinema were in fact introduced by individuals who are now trustees of Carnegie Community Trust. Individual desk spaces were hired to local entrepreneurs. Whirled Cinema left the building in March 2016 and the use of the two rooms as “office space” for local entrepreneurs ended.

In October 2015 Lambeth Council approved the Culture 2020 Report as a Cabinet decision. This report stated that there would be five Neighbourhood Libraries in Lambeth, of which Carnegie would be one. The description of the services offered by a Neighbourhood Library includes:

“Where building space permits there will be space for community groups and small enterprises to hire”.

We are aware that under the Local Plan Policy S1(b)(iii) Lambeth seeks to protect community space wherever possible. However we believe that it is understood by Lambeth that there are circumstances in which community space is best protected by ensuring sufficient income to protect a building such as Carnegie.

In March 2016 Lambeth Council closed the Carnegie building in order to excavate the basement of the building to become a gym. In March 2018 the library was reopened in limited space. In January 2019 the gym opened in the basement only, operated by Greenwich Leisure Ltd.

During 2016/17 Lambeth invited competitive bids to become the preferred bidder for the Asset Transfer of the building to a community organisation to operate as a Community Hub. Carnegie Community Trust were selected on our Business Case and we are currently at the very early stages of taking over the building in which we will continue to host the library service alongside a range of wider activity. Of this activity a considerable amount will need to be income generating to enable us to pay for the maintenance of the building over the coming years. In securing planning consent to develop the gym in the basement Lambeth unfortunately did not consult with prospective community groups about their future planning needs, consequently the consent for renewed use of two rooms as office space was not reapplied for. CCT are now re-applying for this consent.

CCT plans for the activities in the building as a Community Hub currently include

  • Library
  • Community Café
  • Children’s activities
  • Intergenerational events
  • U3A events
  • Space to hire for meetings, conferences, training and events;
  • Exhibitions
  • Music and arts – subject to appropriate licences
  • Yoga and fitness activities
  • The Enterprise Centre

Carnegie Community Trust are applying for consent to change of use of two rooms because we wish to re-introduce the desk hiring arrangement to be known as the “Carnegie Enterprise Centre”. We intend to integrate the users of the Enterprise Centre more fully with the community life of the building – community activities, community café, library, arts, exhibitions and performance. Hire of a desk space will include a desk, pedestal and chair. It is proposed to hire out a total of 35 – 40 spaces for periods of 3/6/12 months.

This application is to use the same two rooms as in 2014/16 as the Enterprise Centre. Both rooms are 108 sq metres. The two room are currently vacant and there is no other planned use for these two rooms.

A plan showing both rooms is attached including entrances, lifts and toilets

  1. Accessibility

There is lift access between the street level accessible entrance and the ground floor room. There is lift access between the ground floor and the first floor room.

There are four unisex toilets on the ground floor and an accessible toilet on the ground floor near the lift. There is tea point on the ground floor close to the lift.

  1. Ownership

The building is owned by Lambeth Council. Currently Carnegie Community Trust have use of one room under a short term Licence to Occupy.  This licence will be converted in March 2019 to a Licence to Occupy all the ground floor and first floor public rooms for up to 12 months with a three month notice period to enable the Trust to establish income generating activity. The Licence period will be followed by a long term Lease.

  1. Community Management Plan – “Future Lambeth – our borough plan” up to 2021

The attached* plan of the building clearly shows the rooms designated for community use in the building within the CCT Business Plan. It is the case that the majority of the space in the building will continue to be for community use. Moreover the Enterprise Centre will recruit locally and we see this as a community asset to improve the quality of the working experience of local entrepreneurs. We believe that this change of use is within the spirit of the “Future Lambeth –our borough plan” to 2021, albeit appropriate use consent is necessary. In particular we believe this change of use will support Priority 3 of the borough plan “Building strong and sustainable neighbourhoods”

  1. Heritage Statement

The proposed change of use will not make any impact on the heritage features of the building either internally or externally. Indeed it is the intention that the proposed change of use will increase the likelihood that this heritage building remains intact and dedicated to community use for learning, work and culture as intended by its sponsor Andrew Carnegie.

  1. Marketing Evidence and Recruitment

The two rooms were fully hired out by Whirled Cinema for the same purpose between 2014 and 2016 when demand was greater than supply. The new centre will offer additional benefits of the Community Hub including the library, engagement in community activities, a community café, access to the gym, accessible toilet, garden, exhibition space and meeting rooms.

It is anticipated that users of the enterprise Centre will become integrated into the life of the Carnegie Community Hub and as our plans develop we hope that, subject to any required DBS checks, they will support planned activities such as the Homework Club and Exhibitions. In this way the Carnegie Enterprise Centre will be innovative and inclusive in its approach.

There is more competition in provision of this type than in 2014/2016 but most of it is very limited in scope and some distance from Herne Hill. It has been previously demonstrated that there is a local need and we anticipate a strong local market. We will charge an affordable, competitive rate.

The “Area of Benefit” of CCT charitable objects is Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction and we will recruit to the Enterprise Centre particularly in this area; working with local groups to help us to circulate information about the opportunity. We will promote the opportunity through our website, Twitter, the Herne Hill Society, local notice boards and local community groups.

We note that it is proposed to develop a new residential estate at Loughborough Junction comprising 134 new apartments. These dwellings will be shared ownership attracting young people who are the most likely demographic for the Enterprise Centre. This new development will be within 10 minutes walk of Carnegie.

  1. Parking Stress

The entrepreneurs using the Enterprise Centre may travel in the following ways:

  1. On foot as we anticipate many will be local and there will be storage space in the desk pedestals to avoid carrying heavy loads to and fro.
  2. By bicycle – the building has a cycle shelter
  3. By public transport – buses run from Loughborough Junction, Brixton, Camberwell, Dulwich, East Dulwich, Crystal Palace
  4. By car – the adjacent streets have parking restrictions between 12pm and 2pm so this is not an attractive means of travel to the centre. Notwithstanding this there are normally several free parking spaces in the immediately adjacent street which can be used free of charge before midday and after 2.00pm

The gym and the Enterprise Centre will together increase parking stress to an extent which will be monitored by Lambeth.

  1. Photographs

Photographs of the two rooms for which change of use is applied are attached.*

  1. Retail Impact

It is likely that the Enterprise Centre will have a beneficial impact on the few local shops on Herne Hill. There are more shops and cafes in Herne Hill centre one mile away and it is unlikely that the impact will be other than positive.

  1. Telecommunications Statement

The proposed change of use will not increase telephone use as there will not be access to a land line telephone in these rooms. The users of the room will use and pay for internet connection which will be available throughout the building.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO. www,carnegiehernehill.org.uk

*Please see planning application. Go to lambeth.gov planning and search ‘Carnegie library’. Ref. No: 19/00846/RG4 The above document and four others are listed as supporting documents under ‘planning statement’ – Ed.

(Apart from subject headings, words placed in heavy type by News From Crystal Palace – Ed.)

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