Mobile Library

I took a walk around the Green this morning and the sight of the Magistrates Court reminded me that I was going to write something about the proposal to move the library. As you may or may not know, Southwark Council have an 8,000 sq. ft. prefabricated building in Bermondsey which is now unused, and they’re considering moving it to the plaza in front of the Court and using it to house the library (currently on Church St.), a meeting space, and cafe. You can see the plans in this consultation document [PDF].

The Camberwell Society object to the proposal on the grounds that the building’s just too big; it would occupy most of the currently open plaza, making it very cramped, and involve cutting down some of the orchard (which they say is ‘becoming lovely’, although I’d dispute that) and some and nearby trees. Also, planning permission was granted only last year for children’s play resources and tree re-planting.

They say the move is likely to cost somewhere in the region of £500,000, and the building itself has an estimated life span of only 10 years, so would rather see the money spent on developing the existing library and meeting spaces in the leisure centre. There would also be costs involved in breaking the leases that are held on the current property.

I received an email from someone suspecting ‘ulterior motives’ for the Council’s proposal, and the author has some questions that they feel haven’t been answered, including:

  • Has an application for planning permission been made?
  • What is the total projected cost of the move?
  • Have estimates been made for repairs to the existing building?
  • What will be done with the old building?

Someone on this blog mentioned a Tesco opening in the current library’s position, but I’m not sure if that was any more than a joke or speculation.

I have to say that I’m not against this proposal if it brings benefits, but I agree that the proposal for meeting spaces and cafe could easily be met by funding the leisure centre, in which case moving the library doesn’t seem to make much sense.

The Council are running the public consultation until 21 April; download a copy [PDF] and fill in your responses if you’re interested in making your voice heard.

Eating, drinking, house prices — business as usual

First of all let me say a huge thanks to reader Joanna, who pointed out to me that the site feed* had stopped working a few months ago; I hadn’t spotted it myself, and no-one else had raised it either. Joanna is a long-time reader of this blog, including during the two years she spent in Rwanda. Now that’s dedication.

Thanks to someone I can’t remember, I’ve recently found the blog of local councillor John Friary, of the Camberwell Green ward. It’s very useful for local news; for example, his latest post mentions that the future of the Baths / Leisure Centre is not as rosy as it could be —  survival depends on Southwark being able to get £2m Government funding from a pot of £50m — which 200 other local authorities have also made bids on. News on the future of the Town Hall there as well.

The latest installment of My Middle-Class Weekends saw me and the wife check out the Saturday farmer’s market in Oval (which we can probably just about squeeze into Camberwell, as it’s at the very end of Camberwell New Road). It’s bigger than the Sunday market at Peckham, with more food actually cooked and served there. Peckham’s still great for picking up the basics, but for something a little more tasty — such as the delicious venison and mushroom pie we had for dinner — it merits a trip on the 436. And I don’t say that lightly.

Earlier that day we dropped a few items off at the PROS bring & take event at the Synergy Centre. Hope that went well.

Later we thought we’d try The Cambria, which everyone has been raving about, but after cycling over there we realised that a) neither of us had any cash and b) all of the outside tables were in the shade. It looks beautiful inside, but we’ll have to go back another time to review it properly. Instead, we wrang out the last few drops of sunshine in the Sun & Doves garden.

To close, some gossip; my mate at the pub says that the Camberwell Grove development isn’t selling well at all. After having to scale back their plans considerably (due to the opposition of the Camberwell Grove Society) they decided to make up their profits by charging more for the properties. Obviously the current financial climate has seen prices tumble, but St George have yet to follow suit; hence, slow sales. As with all gossip, I cannot vouch for its veracity.

If St George would like some free publicity, I will gladly sing their praises here in return for a one-bedroom flat. For a two-bedroom flat, I will also renounce my dislike of the Vauxhall Bridge development.

* In case you don’t know what feeds are, the BBC have a good overview; they’re much more convenient than visiting loads of sites every day. While on technical matters, the 30% of people who visit this site using Internet Explorer 6 should really consider updating to a modern browser; IE6 is old, slow, and potentially insecure. Ask a web-savvy friend if you don’t know what this means.