Local headteacher among those objecting to council's plans
Visualisation of planned building from applicant's submission
Plans to demolish a much-loved library to build 11 affordable homes have been met with pleas from Greenford residents to save the site.
An application was submitted by Ealing Council on September 18 to pull down Wood End Library and Children’s Centre and replace it with flats and a smaller community space – intended to be a replacement library at around a fifth of the size.
The plan comes after a public consultation ended in September, which received 167 responses from the community. This included emails from Greenwood Primary school’s head teacher, parents and teachers urging for the library’s future to be protected.
Wood End Library - Picture: Google Streetview
Headteacher Karen Silvester said: “While I understand the need for further affordable housing in the area I was disappointed to see that Wood End library space will be dramatically reduced…as a school we have always utilised the Wood End library as it is a fantastic resource for our children and a hub for the local community.
“Public space is limited in the area and we really should be enhancing this type of local provision.”
However from an online survey, the council also found a majority 44 per cent of participants supported its aims to deliver more affordable housing in the borough, and 66 per cent of respondents supported the landscaping proposals for the new site. A further 62 per cent of people supported the council’s bid to make it a ‘car-free’ development.
Wood End library is one of six sites for which Ealing Council is submitting applications to build a total 134 new homes – with 98 being affordable housing. This is part of the council’s wider aim to build 1,138 affordable new homes by March 2022.
The Wood End library plans have laid out for all 11 flats to be London Affordable Rent which is considered ‘genuinely affordable housing’. The three one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats and two two-bedroom maisonettes will be offered to households on the council’s housing waiting list.
The library, in Whitton Avenue, underwent a £870,000 refurbishment in 2011, of which Ealing Council contributed £300,000. But the revamped site was first earmarked for redevelopment within the cabinet’s ‘Library Portfolio Review’ in 2018.
In 2019 the cabinet approved its potential redevelopment and recommended the closure of the children’s centre. Since January 2020, Wood End library has been running as a Community Supported Library which means it is managed by the local authority but is supported by volunteers alongside paid staff.
Due to coronavirus, the library has been temporarily closed.
So far among the 15 objections that have been received to the application, Northolt resident John Molley said: “The library is an absolute vital necessity to the community. Right now more than ever, people are struggling financially and cannot afford to buy books.
“Reading is essential to education AND mental health. People also need libraries to job search. Please do not get rid of this just to build more flats with balconies!”
Another objector, Caroline Neza, said: “I object to this development as a local and a user of this library the past nine years. Myself and my two children are members. I have also used the children’s centre.
“There is nowhere else within walking distance for us to go to loan books. Not only do we use it for reading but also to help with school work. Since it closed during lockdown, it has been a big loss for us.
“There are many families that live in the area that use the facilities, as well as adults who can use the computers or have a quiet space to relax in. Two schools are adjacent which use this library as well as two local nurseries who also use the facilities. Its loss would have a big impact on the wider community.
“The space allocated in the plan is nowhere big enough or adequate in replacing the facilities already there.”
The plan is due to be decided by December 18, with the consultation period expiring by November 18.
To view and comment on the plans click here.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
November 2, 2020