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Agenda item

Islington Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent, Islington, London, N5 1PF


Refurbishment of the ground and first floor of the building reinstating the public foyer from Holloway Road entrance to provide a link to the main library at ground floor level. Change of use of the north western portion of the building at ground and first floor levels in association with the creation of a rehearsal room/ theatre (D2) and associated office at ground and first floor levels. Work includes demolition of internal partitions and mezzanine floor, minor structural alterations to form new doorways, new partitions at ground and first floor level and installation of a new ventilation fan with an accompanying external louvre window which would replace the existing sash window above the loading bay doors at ground floor level upon the Fieldway Crescent Elevation. Installation of a ramp to the side elevation of the Holloway Road entrance to provide inclusive access to the building.


(Planning application number: P2019/2576/FUL and P2019/2605/LBC)


In the discussion the following points were made:

·         The Planning Officer informed Committee of proposed changes to conditions 4 and 7 especially if members were minded to grant planning permission. Conditions 4 related to hours of operation especially as the front of the Library opens on to Holloway Road. Hours of operation to be Monday to Sunday and bank holidays from 10.00am to 6.00pm with all visiting members of the public vacating the building 30 minutes prior to closing time. In addition, a request that Condition 7 regarding the sound insulation be reworded was noted.

·         The Planning Officer advised that in light of the proposed works which include alterations to the external appearance of the building and more extensive alterations to the internal appearance of the building, the Council Design and Conservation Officer has raised concerns of some harm to the historic fabric of the listed building especially as site lies within St Magdalene Conservation Area. The Planning Officer advised that the harm would need to be weighed against the public benefits of the scheme which includes outreach programme.

·         Members were advised that the proposed works would result in the change of use of the North Western portion of the building, currently 189.6 sqm of library space to a rehearsal room/theatre (D2 use). The proposed space is to be occupied by Tall Stories, a charity theatre company which specialises in story telling performances for all ages and creates large and small touring shows.

·         Members were informed that no planning permission is required for the internal works and this will comprise the demolition of internal partitions and mezzanine floor, minor structural alterations to form new doorways , new partitions at ground floor . In addition it will involve the refurbishment of the ground and first floor of the Grade II listed library building to reinstate the public foyer from the Holloway Road entrance.

·         On the loss of library floor space and its replacement with the theatre (D2) floor space, members were advised that considering First Steps Learning centre formed part of the Library’s Adult Education Offer but now relocated to the second floor of the Library, the proposal would not result in undermining the use of the building as a library.

·         The Planning Officer informed members that no objections had been received, alternative sites had been considered, the site has a high PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) of 6b and the benefits of the scheme highlighted on page 152 of the agenda.

·         Members were informed that key to the application is the substantial public benefits such as free performances for over 880 Islington  residents, free tall stories provided by actors to over 300 residents (reading campaign) and a  commitment by Tall stories to facilitate workshops and exhibitions at both Central and Islington libraries. 

·         Other benefits highlighted by the Planning Officer included a commitment from Tall Stories to undertake extensive work with schools by facilitating 3 assembly talks per calendar year and the improvement to the Holloway Road entrance which will improve accessibility into the library building.

·         With regard to the impact of the scheme on the heritage assets, members noted the concerns of the design and conservation officers, but acknowledged that the reorganisation of the subdivision of the room moving the existing mezzanine floor from the northern to the southern side of the room would have a neutral or marginally beneficial impact on the historic fabric of the listed building.

·         In terms of the impact of the scheme on preserving the character and appearance of the St Magdalene Conservation Area, the Planning Officer advised that although the external alterations would cause some harm, the harm would be less than substantial and should be weighed against the public benefits arising from the development.

·         In response to concerns on how the public benefits associated with the scheme is to be monitored, the Director, Employment, Skills and Culture informed committee that there will be a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between both parties and the applicants have agreed to have quarterly and annual meetings with Council officers to measure performances.

·         With regard to monitoring of Tall Stories commitment’s, the Planning Officer advised that this could be incorporated into the SLA, the exact wording to be delegated to both the Planning Officer and the Chair if members were minded. 

·         Members were advised that although Council policy states that proposal of more than 8sqm of D2 floor space is best located within town centres, where site is unavailable, this can be located at local shopping areas if its use does not undermine the predominant retails and service function of the Lower Holloway Local shopping area.

·         Members welcomed the proposal, noting the partnership arrangement between Tall Stories, Islington Schools, Library Services and in particular the imaginative manner in ensuring that the library is kept open. Members acknowledged the benefits that will be beneficial to Islington residents.



That following consideration of the case officer’s report (the assessment and recommendations therein), the presentation to Committee, submitted representations and objections provided verbally at this meeting, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions and informatives set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report and subject to the prior completion of a Deed of Planning Obligation made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 securing the heads of terms as set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report.


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