Peabody have submitted plans for Thamesmead’s new library and civic centre. A design competition for the library was undertaken a couple of years ago, and the winner has now been submitted to Bexley Council.

These plans see a reduction in space compared to 2016 proposals.  The library space has increased from 503 square metres to 533 square metres yet now incorporates a cafe which was to accommodate 60 sqm.

Library space reduced

The upper floors were to include a nursery at 353 square metres and gym at 466 square metres.



That has now altered to a generic use mezzanine floor at 110 sqm and
first floor at 420 sqm – a reduction from 819 sq m to 530 sq m.

Total space has reduced from 1670 square metres to 1349 square metres.

I doubt much of the national press fawning over Peabody will pick up on this – much like they generally never mention the seemingly endless delays in commencing wider work as deadline after deadline is missed. Peabody have good PR that much of the press swallow in an uncritical way.

Plans drawn so far are generally very good – it’s just that progress is incredibly slow and little explanation given.

Four years and counting. Delay after delay

The new library will be located beside Southmere lake and a new square. In many ways it mimics the layout of the 1960s original Tavy Bridge design at the site, which had a pyramid club building around the same spot and a public square, located above car parking. This time the square is a street level.

The lakeside location will offer great views to those at ground and first floors plus a terrace located towards the lake.

A quiet interior space is promised which is essential for many people. Too many modern libraries ignore the importance of quiet areas for adults and children studying. For many, it’s the only quiet space available to them.

All in all much is promising, though the reduction in size will annoy some given the plans for thousands of home in the near vicinity over the coming decade.

The render shows it called “Southemere Village” library. Thamesmead would be better no? It could be a rebrand attempt. Already some call the area Abbey Wood (including some of the local press, because of a postcode. It’s not). It’s always been Thamesmead since it was built in the 1960s and 70s with iconic and instantly recognisable architecture and the area should be proud of that and not erase the past.

Then again, the old library was called Newacres yet many called it Thamesmead.

Click here to see the plans.

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