Went to the public meeting / consultation on the plans for Muswell Hill Library on Wednesday evening. If it all came off as described and local residents concerns can be addressed – then the library could be fantastic.
It is much in need of really expensive love and attention. Patching up won’t do any longer – and it is right to develop the library into a modern, vibrant social centre. So that’s the good news.
Of course, funding it requires the building of a few probably luxury dwellings and the leasing of a space within the new library development for a restaurant. There was some concern over a restaurant – smells, noise, suitability and some calls for something more like a coffee shop with evening readings, etc etc. For those living in Avenue Mews, the fly in the ointment and for them a serious fly, is the loss of the only available parking in the street bar about eight on street spaces if the extra development happens.
The issues I raised were really about concerns over the rather vague presentation of the business plan and costs. As it was – with no idea of what bit raised what finance – it was impossible to make any judgement as to whether there was a choice at all as to what the space within the library could be let for – is any alternative to a restaurant feasible? Commercial confidentiality was given as the reason – but I didn’t feel that the figures had been really tested to any degree. So I asked Lorna Reith if she would go back to Property Services and rigorously test the figures. At this point it seemed that Property had simply said we need to sell land for development and lease a space – and that that had been taken at face value.
I also asked that whether she could take back the issue of the problems of Avenue Mews residents re parking to see if there were any other little bits of land belonging to the Council that might be rented to them. Both of these things Lorna agreed to do.
There still was a lack of detail about the plans – and Cllr Gail Engert (Lib Dem, Muswell Hill) made a very good point in terms of having asked after the last meeting for that detail yet here we all were at a second meeting and the detail was still not available.
However, all in all, it was a pretty positive meeting. And as I said at the beginning – if it all works out it could be great. If…