An Open Letter to Councillor Sonia Winifred

Dear Councillor Winifred,

Thank you for your recently released statements regarding the future of Carnegie Library. It is heartening that you are taking such an interest in the future of this landmark heritage building.

As you know, the Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) and its precursor organisations have since 2012 been working on bringing the building into community ownership. This work has involved thousands of hours of volunteer time and about £100,000 of Council grant funding to see the project through the various stages of consultation, conservation planning, architectural work, business planning and asset transfer, which has eventually led to CCT being selected as Lambeth’s preferred community partner.

However, we are sorry to report that we are still not on the same page as the Council. The problems started in 2015 when the ‘Culture 2020’ report was published and we discovered that, despite the initial commitment and investment from Lambeth, the building was to be handed over to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) for use as a gym with some minor library provision. At this juncture we decided that in those circumstances our project could not continue.

The project was given a reprieve after CCT appealed to councillors who then amended the Culture 2020 cabinet recommendations. This eventually led to Lambeth agreeing to excavate the basement to house the gym, allowing a community project to proceed as planned on only the upper floors.

In our plans, the excavation of the basement was proposed as necessary in order to provide a sustainable income stream, although our preferred use for it would not have been a gym. This was because our consultation results showed local opposition to this use. But, given Lambeth’s commitment to going ahead with a gym run by GLL, CCT felt that this could be an acceptable compromise given that GLL could be the reliable anchor tenant we were seeking, so ensuring an income stream sufficient to sustain the community building as a whole.

Having said that, there remain three main problems with the Council’s position:

1.  Due to a ‘side deal’ in the leisure contract, GLL and Lambeth are insisting that no rent be paid for the basement until 2022, after which a rent well below the market value is being offered. As charity trustees, we have a fiduciary duty to ensure that we are receiving best value from the rental of space. We are advised that such an arrangement would contravene charity law and likely make capital funding for the restoration of the building impossible to secure, as well as leaving a significant shortfall in the anticipated revenue stream for that space.

2.  Although the basement excavation is accepted in principle, the proposed ancillary building and curtailment of space in the garden is not. This is a cheap ‘off the shelf’ scheme that is entirely out of character with a listed building. Again, this will deter funders and restrict the use of the outside garden spaces by the community and residents of the flats.

3.  Lambeth is determined to begin work as soon as possible, spending £1.2m of public funds. This money could leverage in considerable match-funding if it were to be considered as part of an overall capital funding package. The undue haste with which the Council is now pursuing its agreement with GLL is jeopardising future funding for the Carnegie in both revenue and capital terms.

Obviously a joined-up approach is required. We have a unique opportunity to secure the long-term future of the building with a heritage regeneration project providing investment of £5m or more and completing a Community Asset Transfer guaranteeing that this precious building will stay as a public building with a library in it for the use of everyone in the area. Without this investment and community ownership the building could survive in the short-term, but would continue to be gradually degraded by neglect and inappropriate alterations and inevitably end up in the private sector. A gym would sit nicely within a development of luxury flats.

CCT is finding it very difficult to get through to the Council the need to work in partnership with us and the community on the long-term future of the Carnegie.  Instead of co-operative working we are continually being presented with fait accompli. Many decisions have already been taken by the Council that jeopardise not just our but any community bid. Accordingly, we now request that this process be slowed down in order to allow time for proper consideration and consultation on plans for the future of this landmark building to take place.

Lambeth councillors seem fixated on getting the library open before next May’s elections. Although this approach may be politically expedient, it is ultimately endangering the future of the building and any community project.

We do not have much time; work is about to start. We urgently request your intervention.

There is nothing that cannot be solved with sensible dialogue. Although the re-opening of the library may be put back a bit, it is better that there is a plan that is acceptable to everyone and that the community has had an opportunity to contribute to it.

We only have one shot at this. Let’s get it right.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Carnegie asset transfer – preferred Community partner – start of negotiations with Lambeth Council

The Asset Transfer process to transfer the Carnegie building from Lambeth Council ownership to a charitable trust is a lengthy one.  The Stage 1 application was made in December 2015.   That application was submitted following the Community Hub development work undertaken by the Trust’s predecessor, the Carnegie Library Project Group between April 2012 and October 2015 when the Project Group incorporated as the Carnegie Community Trust CIO.  The application set out the following:

  • Conservation Statement
  • Architects’ Brief
  • Possible Use Options
  • Public Consultation
  • Preferred Option following consultation
  • Charity Registration and Constitution

The Stage 2 application involved producing a detailed Business Plan and this was presented to Lambeth’s Panel in April 2017 following our responses to a 30-question document, a meeting and then an assessment of the bid by Lambeth’s independent consultant (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in January 2017.

While this was going on Lambeth announced that it intended to go ahead with excavating the basement for a gym to be operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) and obtained Planning Permission for this and also for community uses in the rest of the building.  The plans were not consulted on, merely exhibited, but, as a result of those decisions, the Trust must now determine how they impact on its Business Plan.

So, whilst the Trust has been selected as the Preferred Community Partner, its Business Plan makes three key assumptions:

  • A long-term lease of the whole building and grounds
  • An income stream from the basement
  • A design that accommodates the Library and all the other uses identified in the three Work Programmes in its Preferred Option and respects the architectural character of the building

Initial discussions with Lambeth indicate that there are difficulties in all three areas and it will take some time to see whether these can be overcome before any Heads of Terms can be agreed.

If initial agreement can be reached it will probably be necessary for the Trust to revise the Business Plan and for this reason there is no point in publishing it in full now.  However, an outline of the programmes and workstreams in the Business Plan were published here recently.  We will be arranging meetings with community groups to discuss and obtain their thoughts on our plans as soon as we have an outline agreement with LBL.

We will post regular updates here on the progress of these discussions with Lambeth and would ask that you encourage all interested parties to sign up for these at:

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Carnegie Community Trust Plans

Carnegie Community Trust is delighted to have been selected, on the basis of its Business Plan for a Community Hub and Enterprise Centre, as the Preferred Bidder for an asset transfer of the Carnegie building from Lambeth Council. Discussions have now commenced with the Council on the legal structure and financial arrangements for this transfer to community ownership.

Our vision proposes the conservation and refurbishment of the building to restore it to its former glory and make it fit for purpose for the future

Lambeth’s plan is to put a gym in the basement and that development is entirely separate from the Community Hub and Enterprise Centre. CCT, as a charity, must receive appropriate income for the use of the basement which will be separately managed by Greenwich Leisure Limited. We aim to ensure that the rental from the gym in the basement supports the community use of the rest of the building.

The Trust’s negotiations with Lambeth Council include a timetable for the reopening of the building, including partial use at the earliest possible date. We look forward to getting a library into operation as a priority, welcoming back those user groups who previously used the space as well as bringing in new groups and opportunities for local residents. We hope to work closely with Community groups to ensure that all local interests are addressed.

The Community Hub will be developed as three interlinked Programmes led by the Centre Manager, with staff and volunteers:


  1. The Learning and Enterprise Programmes:
  • A Library run in partnership with Lambeth Library Service and managed by the Trust
  • A safe, calm environment for homework and study, to strengthen achievements and prepare for work, aligned with the Library and the Enterprise Area
  • Literacy and reading classes
  • Space for wide, innovative learning opportunities including schools, children’s groups, computer training, English language teaching, citizenship classes
  • University of the Third Age
  • Rental space for Training Events, particularly encouraging preparation for work for school leavers and for the unemployed
  • An Enterprise Area for use by a range of local self-employed people and small businesses who will pay a rental or fee; supporting local entrepreneurs, reducing unemployment and isolation, encouraging joint and shared work activity, supporting first time self-employed, and encouraging transfer of knowledge and ideas. This will draw on the experience of small business occupiers over the last two years before closure.
  • A Youth Club either as a hosted service, or a service managed by the Trust, in order to encourage social activity, group learning and positive relationships among local young people


  1. Health and Wellbeing Programme:
  • Initiatives that bridge generations and share skills across generations, including work in partnership with South London Cares and support for young carers
  • Space for well-being classes such as yoga, pilates etc.
  • Space for health service outreach support including mental health
  • Community services will link with local charities, local GPs, multi-faith churches, schools, the local employment centre at Loughborough Junction, and voluntary projects


  1. The Performance and Arts Programme:
  • Use of space in the building to host exhibitions, including Heritage Events
  • Flexible use of space for performances of music, dance and theatre, particularly encouraging and sponsoring local talent
  • Talks, debates, films
  • Work in conjunction with local parks and green space groups to encourage outdoor activity, access to the garden and horticulture


General facilities:

  • Café. There will be a café for the local Community, where generations can mix.
  • Space for meetings and Community events. Achieved by flexible use of rooms.
  • Space for hire. Both private hire and subsidised community hire.
  • The plan is to restore the garden for use by residents and the Community.


Our Proposal includes work streams for each of the above Programmes. There are also important work streams for:

  • Governance including recruitment of Trustees
  • Volunteer Recruitment & Training
  • Fundraising
  • Membership Scheme, and
  • Heritage Strategy

We will be looking to strengthen the Trustee Board with new faces, people with relevant experience to deliver this major capital project.

Our work streams will be led by Trustees working with volunteers. We will establish a new Management Board for the operation of the Hub and Enterprise Centre, as the diagram below indicates. This will enable local people with relevant experience or interest to become involved in the running of the Hub.

Once we have agreed the legal structure and financial arrangements with Lambeth, which may take a little time, those arrangements will be shared with the Community. Meanwhile we wish to meet Community groups and keep everyone updated through our website

We welcome all offers of support, suggestions, advice and questions:


Carnegie Community Trust CIO

July 2017

Carnegie: where we are now

In September 2016 Lambeth Council invited detailed technical and financial proposals from the community to take an Asset Transfer (i.e. ownership) of the Carnegie building.  Now the bidding process is complete, the Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) has been judged to have submitted the stronger bid. But, there is a way to go before the building can be transferred.

Lambeth has a contract with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to operate a gym in the basement and this requires excavation of the basement.  Whilst this work is carried out Lambeth will be making some modifications to the building as a whole, including relocation of toilets.  Unfortunately the building is unlikely to reopen until this work is completed but we are pressing for the earliest possible date.

CCT remains opposed to the idea of a gym.  We also have serious concerns about some of the additional alterations that Lambeth and GLL propose to make to the building before it transfers to us.  Some of these are poorly thought out and would seriously damage this wonderful Grade 2 listed building.  Now that the Trust is the Preferred Community Partner we will meet Lambeth and GLL to see if we can secure amendments to these proposals.

We have commenced discussions with Lambeth about the terms on which the Trust and GLL will occupy the building and other aspects of our proposed business plan.  The Trust will only proceed if and when the terms are right.  If we are able to negotiate the right terms we can agree a date for the asset transfer and re-opening of the building.

Our intention is to work with the community to develop a Community Hub offering three programmes – “Learning and Enterprise”, “Health and Wellbeing” and “Performance and Arts”.

CCT will publish a finalised Business Plan as soon as we are confident of a satisfactory outcome to the discussions with Lambeth.  We will also meet local groups, circulate a newsletter and hold a public meeting reaching out to all who live in Herne Hill, Coldharbour and neighbouring areas.  We want to throw open membership of the Trust and hope many local people will join.

The present Trustees, plus we hope some new ones, will undertake the detailed work on fundraising and construction, which will take some time.  In the meantime, as soon as we acquire the building we want to get it back into use so that there will be opportunities for everyone to get involved in the activities that most interest them.  It will be a true community building once again.

We will continue to provide regular updates on our website including invitations to join CCT and to volunteer with the project.  We look forward to meeting and to hearing your suggestions for an exciting future for the Carnegie.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Lambeth communications about Carnegie Library

The announcement by the Council on Friday 21st July 2017 that the Carnegie Community Trust had been selected as the ‘Preferred Community Partner’ to bid for the Asset Transfer of the Carnegie Library building was not handled well by Lambeth Council.

Cllr Dickson has apologised to some residents, who met on Thursday evening to discuss  the proposed building works to the Carnegie, for the fact that neither of the two bidders – ourselves and the Carnegie Library Association – received their official letters by email on Friday until after leaflets had been delivered through letterboxes in Herne Hill announcing the decision early on Friday morning.

CCT had been informally and confidentially notified in advance of the decision and respected the Council’s request not to disclose this information until both bidding organisations had received their formal letters simultaneously from the Council.  We understood that these letters would be received on Friday 21st July ahead of a leaflet distribution planned for Saturday 22nd July.

This sequence of events is really unfortunate and we hope that future communications about the Carnegie will be better co-ordinated by the Council.

CCT will make every effort to communicate regularly and openly as plans for the Carnegie progress.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Lambeth confirms Preferred Bidder status

Carnegie Community Trust CIO are pleased to announce that the Trust has been selected by Lambeth Council as the Preferred community group to take an Asset Transfer of the Carnegie Library building as originally envisaged in the Council’s Community Hub policy for empowering communities to take control of local assets.

The Trust has worked on development plans for the Carnegie since 2012 and is pleased that this decision moves the process of enabling a community group to take ownership of the Carnegie building a step closer.

Although the library is a much-loved facility in Herne Hill, the building has been under-used in the past. We have created a vision for a new Community Hub that will provide space for a library service and for the rest of the community space to be used for an exciting range of social, educational, cultural and economic uses that, in addition to library users, will attract many more Herne Hill residents into the building. The Trust aims to make every inch of the building work hard for the community.

In addition, our plans provide for a major refurbishment to restore this beautiful landmark building to its original glory and make it fit-for-purpose for the next 100 years. Our project proposes to attract major capital investment to do this work which will result in Herne Hill having an iconic community and cultural facility well into the future.

This decision means that we can start negotiations with the Council on the terms of bringing the Carnegie into community ownership through their Asset Transfer policy and we look forward to sharing the outcomes of those talks with the community.

Assuming that those negotiations go smoothly we will be discussing the plans with other local community groups and will move forward as quickly as possible to throw open participation and membership of the Carnegie Community Trust to everyone in Herne Hill and the surrounding areas.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported this project so far and look forward to inviting more volunteers to join us to help deliver what will be a major undertaking by the local community. To volunteer or to receive regular updates please sign up on our website –

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Carnegie: update on community asset transfer process

The Application Process for the Asset Transfer of the Carnegie Library building is now complete. Carnegie Community Trust has submitted our Business Plan, plus further information for Lambeth’s consultants and made a formal presentation to the Asset Transfer Panel made up of three officers and an independent advisor from Meanwhile Space. We now await the decision of the Council as to who will be the Preferred Bidder. If Carnegie Community Trust is successful in being selected as the Preferred Bidder, we will reach out to the whole community to share our plans and invite a united community approach to the Next Chapter of the Carnegie Library. Our first step will be to invite representatives of all the community and local groups to meet and talk. 

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Planning Committee to consider GLL Planning Applications next Tuesday 7th February 2017 at 7pm

The Planning Committee’s Agenda is now online, along with the Officers’ report recommending approval.   Note, the venue is not the Karibu Centre in Gresham Road but:
Bolney Meadow Community Centre, 31 Bolney Street, London, SW8 1EZ.
For details, including the Lambeth officers’ report, go to:

Officers recommend that the Committee should:
In respect of Application 16/06270/FUL:
‘1. Resolve to grant conditional planning permission, subject to the completion of an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 of the planning obligations listed in this report.
2. Agree to delegate authority of the Director of Planning and Development to:
(i)  Finalise the recommended conditions as set out in this report; and
(ii) Negotiate, agree and finalise the planning obligations as set out in this report pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
3. In the event that the Committee resolves to refuse planning permission and there is a subsequent appeal, delegated authority is given to officers, having regard to the heads of terms set out in the report, to negotiate and complete a document containing obligations pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in order to meet the requirement of the Planning Inspector.’

In respect of Application 16/06271/LB:   Grant Conditional Listed Building Consent.

At the meeting
A maximum  of 3 objectors and 3 supporters are permitted to speak for 2 minutes each.   Ward Councillors may also speak for 2 minutes each.  Requests to speak must be made in advance.   For the committee procedures see:

Objections published online
After a lull since 10 January, Lambeth posted a further raft of Objections on 30 January.
There are now 164 Objections online, out of 166 Comments (there’s one ‘Support’ comment and one ‘Neutral’).  Presumably there are also submissions by email or letter.
To see the online Comments go to Lambeth’s Planning page and search for ‘Carnegie’:

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Season’s Greetings

Best wishes to all our supporters and everyone who cares about the future of our precious Carnegie Library.

Last month there was good news for another Carnegie Library.  The Old Library at Tuebrook in Liverpool, which had been closed for ten years, received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £3.9 million for restoration and re-purposing as a much-needed community building to be known as Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub.   link

We hope to see progress in 2017 towards a similar outcome for Carnegie Library Herne Hill.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Carnegie Planning Applications: update

As of today, 137 Public Comments have been submitted online and can be read on Lambeth’s website.  Further comments will have been sent in by email and post.   Only Objections that are based on planning grounds can be taken into account; however most of the online Objections do specify valid planning grounds.

Given that the Applications, although made by GLL, are Council-supported, the Planning Committee can be expected to strive not only to be impartial, but to be seen to be impartial.   Their decision will be open to challenge in Court by way of ‘judicial review of administrative action ’.

Why the Applications should be refused  

The proposal is seriously non-compliant with the Lambeth Local Plan, which:

  • states the ‘agreed strategy’ for Carnegie as ‘a community hub and library’
  • safeguards ‘existing community premises’ unless certain conditions are met [none is met]
  • states that planning powers will be used ‘to ensure that special regard is paid to sustaining and enhancing the historic environment’ [no regard is paid to this]
  • requires ‘optimum viable use’ of a listed building [which a gym at Carnegie clearly is not]
  • rules out developing more than 30% of rear gardens generally [more than half is taken]
  • rules out destroying a garden which is the setting of a heritage asset [the garden is ruined]
  • requires adequate parking and servicing provision [new building consumes the small car park that is essential for servicing Carnegie in a cramped residential area]
  • requires adequate parking provision [residents all around Carnegie park on-street]

The development would:

  • create increased traffic in residential streets as gym users drive to Carnegie from early morning to late evening, all requiring on street parking
  • adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbours by increased noise and disturbance and worsened parking difficulty
  • adversely affect the residential character of the area
  • adversely affect the character and appearance of a Listed Building by the poorly designed extension and plant compounds, which would degrade both the building and its setting

The proposed Change of Use, if allowed, would result in the removal from PUBLIC ownership of a landmark listed building that is also registered (by Lambeth Council, in January 2016) as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011.
ACV listing is a ‘material consideration’ for the Planning Committee.

Cooperative Council, ‘focusing on citizens’? 

One Public Comment (11 December) points out that the Council’s behaviour in relation to Carnegie contradicts its own Policy  ‘Behaviours for the Cooperative Council’:
‘Focuses on Citizens
This behaviour is about having a continual focus on the outcomes that are delivered for local citizens and other stakeholders.  It goes beyond ‘wanting to do the right thing’ to genuinely engaging with and listening to citizens, understanding their needs and helping them make decisions about the services they want and need.  Fundamentally, having a focus on citizens means we view them as an asset who can make a valuable contribution to the Borough”.

Locally, over the past two years we have not experienced willingness on the part of the Council to work with any of the interested parties in Herne Hill in the spirit of what is intended by this Policy.

Planning Committee

It seems likely that the case will go before the Planning Committee in January.   A regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 17th January.    No agenda as yet, but the final officer reports deadline is 4th January and the agenda publication deadline is Friday 6th January.

Committee members and their contact details are listed here:

We understand from Planning Officer Lauren Shallcross that although the Site Notice expired on 12 December ‘comments can still be submitted via the website up until the planning application is determined’.

Do make your views known, if you haven’t already done so.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO