MANY OBJECTIONS TO CARNEGIE LIBRARY OFFICE PLANS: “No part of this public library building should be hived off for private, exclusive use” …… “Application is contrary to assurances given by local councilors” ……. “Valuable community spaces should not be withdrawn precipitously from community use”

Many objections have been lodged over plans to turn two community rooms  at the Carnegie library on Herne Hill Road into offices.

The application is in the name of an individual who is one of three trustees on the Carnegie Community Trust, but the main application document is headed Carnegie Community Trust.

Objections include the following:

Ref. No: 19/00846/RG4
As a resident of Herne Hill and member of Carnegie Library for 37 years, I strongly oppose the above planning application. My main objection is that the proposed change of use of two rooms from library and related flexible community use to offices would be inappropriate and a serious loss of amenity.

Friends of Carnegie Library successfully applied to have the library registered as an ACV Asset of Community Value (granted 13 January 2016). The criteria states “its actual current use furthers the social wellbeing and interests of the local community, or a use in the recent past has done so”.

A 2015 Department for Communities and Local Government report noted “ACV listing is a material consideration for local authorities in all planning applications other than those for minor works”.

Though at first glance it may appear minor, removing two rooms from public to private commercial use would result in exclusion of the local community, compromising our valued asset.

Local Plan Policy S1(b) aims to protect community space; the applicant brushes this aside with the notion that income generation from office rental may help maintain the building. This does not convince, nor does it mitigate the loss of community space. There are more library-compatible ways of generating income without such loss.

No part of this public library building should be hived off for private, exclusive use. The inherent design of the building and its function as a key local amenity call for a holistic solution, where everything is linked with and supports the core service. It would not work as a collection of disconnected functions.

Until its two year closure, the library was a real community hub and healthy living centre. We have since suffered the loss of the basement to a fee-paying gym, which is separated from the library and moreover does not pay rent or contribute to maintenance.

Any further loss of public space would be seen as another step in creeping closure. The gym’s installation has also involved unwarranted interventions in other parts of our listed building; and access and fire escape issues have yet to be resolved.

When the change of use of the basement from library to gym was agreed despite widespread objections, local councillors assured the community that the use of the rest of the building as a library was guaranteed. This new application flies in the face of that promise.

As it is, the public library area has already been reduced by the loss of the separate Children’s Library and Gallery, making it difficult or impossible for some of the former user groups to return. Any space not allocated to reading and book lending must therefore be retained for library related D1 uses.


I object to the proposal on the grounds that it a) is incompatible with community use of the building, which is a registered community asset and b) is contrary to assurances given by local councillors that when the application for the gym was approved, the rest of the building would be guaranteed to remain in class D1 for the future.

By re-classifying parts of the building as offices, the possibilities of ensuring that the space is available for community, learning or creative activities is undermined, and the character of the Library as a community centre is compromised. It is ironic that an organisation with the word ‘Community’ in its title is attempting to reduce the community nature of the Carnegie library.


I object to the reclassification of these rooms away from community use to offices. The classification should remain in the highly successful form it was previously, allowing for hot desk use on a provisional basis, which will be subject to re-evaluation.

These are valuable community spaces and should not be withdrawn precipitously from community use. The library has enormous potential as a community resource, for Herne Hill and the wider Lambeth and South London catchment and deserves the chance once properly funded again to expand.

The previous use of this space, albeit with a provisional ad hoc character, without precluding future development as a community resource, created what by all accounts was a vibrant home for local entrepreneurs. This is a sector of the economy which will grow in the next 10-20 years and Herne Hill Lambeth should be in the vanguard (move over, Shoreditch).

It is myopic to close this resource down for permanent office use. This would feel like theft, frankly, from the point of view of local residents and library users who take great pride in the library’s 100 year heritage in our community and also have high hopes for it during the next 100 years.


“The use of these rooms should support the library and its ethos; be used by community, arts based or otherwise practitioners that appreciate the important role the library plays in our community.

“As I understand it, the spaces were previously booked up and used by art practitioners who worked well together and worked well alongside the library.”

I would like the current status of Desk Hire to continue, rather than Office Hire, which I feel would be inappropriate in the Library. The Library should be a community space, not for commercial use.


Any permission be restricted to desk space hire and limited to two years, like the previous one, so that the planning use can be reviewed at the end of this period. (The view that any permission should be limited to just two years is voiced by many of the objectors – Ed.)

Although I think its a good idea that part of the Carnegie library is leased as short-term office space, the current terms of this application are not beneficial to the wider community and general public.

It would be preferable to change the planning status to accommodate Community and/or temporary Office Space. This would give the space more flexible terms of use, should the need for more community/library space arise.

The current proposal is effectively robbing the community of yet more space at Carnegie Library and I strongly disagree with it.

The library and building are meant for community use and the rooms should remain classified as such.



If this change of use must go ahead I’d like to see it amended for a short period of time to see how it will work and affect the primary use of the building which should be to act as a library for the people who live in the area.


I am broadly supportive of this change of use, but believe any planning decision, particularly those to do with such a sensitive development as Carnegie, should not be allowed to further reduce local amenity, or to increase pollution of any sort.

Consideration therefore needs to be given to:
– Opening hours – will these facilities be available “office hours”, “gym hours” or 24/7? Longer hours have potential to impact
residents more, in terms of parking stress, noise, light and air pollution.
– Parking – this is commented on, however I would observe that residents were promised a report on the change in parking stress due to the gym which has never been forthcoming.
– Air pollution – potential to increase via parking
– Light pollution – this has been terrible ever since the changes to Carnegie started – lights left on all night, new floodlights over the garden, etc. Evening use of the offices would add to this. At minimum lights should turn off automatically


I am a local resident and library user. I support this application, as part of a plan to give the Carnegie a sustainable future as a community asset. I welcome the fact that the Trust will recruit hirers locally and will seek to engage them with the wider life of the building.

(Words placed in heavy type by News From Crystal Palace – Ed.)

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