Issue - meetings

Beckenham Library and Cultural Venue

Meeting: 27/11/2019 - Executive (Item 103)


Clock House and Copers Cope wards

Additional documents:


Report DRR19/051


The Executive considered a report assessing the potential for using the Beckenham Library site for housing, and moving the library to a more central location in the town centre at Beckenham Public Halls, an under-utilised asset with huge potential.

Councillor Josh King addressed the Executive on behalf of Clock House ward councillors. He contended that this was a bad scheme which would result in a significant reduction in the provision of facilities in Beckenham, a reduction in the rooms available for public hire at Beckenham Public Halls, a smaller library space and the breaking up of the well-established and well used educational, sports and amenity hub of the Library, the Spa and Venue 28. It would also result in the destruction of the late art deco library building, which made a positive contribution to the Elm Road Conservation Area – he read out the conservation area description. He described the Leader as scaremongering about local housing targets, and that only a modest increase to 774 dwellings from the 641 in the Local Plan had been proposed. The Library site had never been allocated for housing in the Local Plan and housing targets could be met by positive engagement with developers to optimise the land already allocated in the Local Plan. Neglect by the Council of the Public Hall and the Library leading to a substantial backlog of maintenance could not be used to justify the scheme. He stated that the scheme was very unpopular with residents and Residents Associations – there had already been a demonstration and a petition against it had gathered over 4,000 signatures with 400 signatories adding their own comments.


In response, the Leader commented that he wasn’t the local PPC who was ‘scaremongering’ misleadingly on Twitter that Beckenham Library was being closed and he pressed Councillor King as to whether he held private information he wished to share with the Committee confirming that the Mayor for London had abandoned his published housing target of 1,424 dwellings per year across the Borough. Councillor King responded that he did not.


The Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation and Housing, Councillor Peter Morgan, read a statement addressing the following issues (a copy is attached to these minutes as Appendix B) –


·  Moving the library- there was no intention of closing the library, and it  would only be moved if the study being commissioned showed that the new library would be at least as large and contain at least as many books. Previous schemes at Biggin Hill, Orpington and Penge had been very successful.

·  The refurbishment of the public halls – transforming an under-utilised arts and craft building and increasing both library and community use.

·  Housing – the Council had 1,600 families on the housing register, and was focussing on its own under-utilised land. 50% of new housing on the library site would be affordable.

·  Design – the drawing of a possible development on the library site was only a space study and if the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 103

Meeting: 05/11/2019 - Renewal, Recreation and Housing Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee (Item 45)


Additional documents:


Report DRR19/051


Members were requested to consider a proposal to move Beckenham Library from its current site into Beckenham Public Hall - a Grade II listed building with significant potential for community use and situated in a more central town location.


Members were also requested to consider the option of making the existing Beckenham Library site available for housing.


The Assistant Director, Culture and Regeneration informed Members that

as part of the Regeneration Strategy in development, opportunities were being sought to improve and enhance the borough’s libraries. In addition, Council owned sites were being assessed for housing and current results suggested there was not enough to meet the target of 1000 homes.  This report was, therefore, a good news story in that the scheme had the potential to address both those needs.


Having been assessed for housing, the existing library site could accommodate 46 homes (50% affordable) as shown in the appendix. Cushman and Wakefield had provided a professional view that the site value was £2.12m.


High level feasibility work had been undertaken by officers to assess the potential of transforming Beckenham Public Hall into a new modern library and cultural venue.

The work undertaken suggested that the site had potential, however further information was required to understand the true viability of the scheme.


Therefore this report merely sought initial approval to proceed to procurement for an architect led team to undertake surveys and develop costed concept designs.  If shown to be viable, full community consultation would take place prior to a report coming back to Members to request to proceed to the next stage of development.


Visiting Ward Member for Clock House, Councillor Ian Dunn, addressed the Committee on behalf of the local community.  The West Beckenham Residents’ Association had written to him raising concerns in regard to:-


·  the impact of the development on the vitality of the area;

·  the impact of the development on the Elm Road Conservation Area; and

·  the availability of public transport.


The existing library was one of three focal points in the area.  Relocation would inconvenience visitors to both the spa and library.  The building itself was located opposite the Grade II listed building Venue 28 and situated within a Conservation Area.  Councillor Dunn suggested that the views of the Assistant Director of Planning be sought prior to proceeding further.


The site was readily accessible from Beckenham with four bus routes along Beckenham Road and Clock House railway station nearby. 


It was clear there were a number of previous options for the proposals and Councillor Dunn urged the Committee to ask officers to evaluate these before proceeding further.


The Assistant Director Culture and Regeneration assured Councillor Dunn that the proposals for the scheme did take the Conservation Area into account and discussions with the Planning Department had been undertaken.  Public transport had also been addressed in the Equality Impact Assessment.


Visiting Ward Member for Copers Cope, Councillor Michael Tickner, acknowledged that a feasibility study for the proposals would be undertaken.  In regard to inconvenience/convenience  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45