East Greenwich library sold to church group

The Metro has today reported that the former East Greenwich library has been sold by Greenwich Council to a church group for £1.8 million in 2019.

The article frames the sale as being an example of buildings sold off cheaply. It is a very low sum for such a substantial site, though it should be noted that the building was in dire condition internally, and its Grade II listed status possibly restricts future alterations.

The church group that purchased the building are the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who have seen a fair share of controversy both in the UK and Nigeria.

East Greenwich lbrary – or Greenwich Central as it was known

The BBC reported that the church’s worldwide head in Nigeria has been criticised for sexist messages on social media including “no matter how educated or successful you are, your husband is your head and you must regard him as such at all times” and “don’t marry a girl who is lazy. Don’t marry a girl who cannot cook. She needs to know how to do chores and cook because you cannot afford to be eating out all the time.”

He also drew attention to the church when he stated “Anyone who is not paying his tithe is not going to heaven, full stop”.

In the UK Labour leader Kier Starmer visited and praised a branch of the church, while opponents highlighted how its pastor had opposed laws against discrimination and also same sex marriage.

He later apologised:

Closed

The library was in terrible condition when it closed in 2015. Well, to be accurate, it was in a terrible condition at least a decade before with former public areas shut away from view and unsafe. I’d taken a look back to those former public areas which were later used as storage and imminent collapse seemed possible.

It’s no surprised then that it hardly fetched a great sum. Why Greenwich never maintained the building to even a basic level as new builds sprung up all around and brought millions to the authority is a mystery – and certainly harmed them when it came to selling.

This is after previous “improvement” work opposite library

The exterior of the site and public realm didn’t help either with enticing buyers. The 1960s flyover divided the local area, and the wider streetscape for decades after was almost designed to be as ugly as possible. It was hardly going to help any sale.

A prospective buyer for leisure use or conversion to housing would have run a mile.

Street furniture such as this bench in poor condition

In 2017/18 TfL had given money to improve the local area. Greenwich didn’t do so.

2017/18 planned schemes.

Thus they refused to spend incoming cash they received from new builds and appeared to not spend external cash on the area before the sale in 2019, harming the chance of sizable income.

Area poorly maintained

Not the best financial management.

If the church group now proposes to demolish parts of the structure (and given how bad it is, this is quite possible despite the listed status) it’ll raise many questions over the building and a public asset long neglected.

If some parts of the structure are too far gone to save (I cannot emphasise enough how bad parts are to the rear), could Greenwich have revamped the main frontage and core building while adding housing or other uses and then either retain or sell?

That could at least have brought a decent return on investment for the public good. As it is, it could be they’ve sold it cheaply and much will still come down. The worst of all worlds if so.

 

 

 

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

11 thoughts on “East Greenwich library sold to church group

  • December 27, 2021 at 2:56 pm
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    Murky. I don’t know what you were told about the building in 2011 but the problems went well beyond lack of maintenance. I don’t pretend to know any details but the collapse of the 1920s section in 1999 for instance seems to indicate structural problems. I suspect that neither you or the article you quote are aware of the actual costs involved.

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  • December 27, 2021 at 9:11 pm
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    This building was donated to the community by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Yet community has no voice, yet again.

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  • December 28, 2021 at 8:07 am
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    Carnegie had a vision, as did the builders of the nearby fire station, to bring about a raised quality of life for those coming to the area. The Blackwall Tunnel was newly built and the area had high hopes for safety and prosperity. Bad enough the fire station was lost to squatters for decades, but seeing the library fall into disrepair and neglect is even worse.

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  • December 28, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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    So sad to see these old public buildings in a crumbling state. Swimming pools, libraries, fire stations, police stations all disappearing slowly.

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  • December 29, 2021 at 7:34 am
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    Totally agree such a shame to see our old public buildings being allowed to fall in to a state of such disrepair and eventually being lost forever.

    I thought Greenwich Council had decided not to allow any more of these type of churches to be granted planning permsission in the Borough after refusing an application for a property on Eltham High Street to be converted to a Church a couple of years back

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  • December 29, 2021 at 7:40 am
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    **To see our old public buildings**

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  • December 29, 2021 at 10:24 am
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    Martha you make a good point. Therefore this building should really have been kept for use by the local community and local community groups.

    The Memorial Hospital on Shooters Hill cannot be sold off by the NHS as funds to build the Hospital was raised by local people as a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in World War 1. With the foundation stome being laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1925

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  • December 30, 2021 at 11:59 am
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    The old North Woolwich railway station has also been sold to a church group and is in a similar poor state. Grade II listing confers severe restrictions when it comes to repairs and alterations, so presumably the buyers of the library and the old station have deep pockets and are aware of the hurdles to be jumped.

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  • January 2, 2022 at 9:08 am
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    Might have been Gary J. However, I thought Churches had to be built on consecrated ground ?

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  • January 5, 2022 at 11:57 am
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    If there is no churchyard, then it doesn’t matter. The ground has to be made “holy” for the receiving of bodies.

    Reply

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