Plans have been submitted to refurbishment the former East Greenwich library after being purchased by the Redeemed Christian Church of God for £1.8 million.
The application contains a wealth of photos showing the inside of the structure which has been off-limits to many for years.
Even before closure and services moving to the Greenwich Centre, the public library was occupying a small amount of the space given poor condition of the building including a ceiling collapse to the rear of the site.
Though to be frank, poor condition is an understatement. It was in terrible shape inside and out for many years which can’t have helped Greenwich council secure a decent price for it.
Photos show the interior in extremely poor condition. None of this is new. It was like that for at least 15 years despite being listed. Staff worked in a crumbling edifice for many years.
I visited the site a few times over the years and saw areas off-limits to the public, though never did make it into the basement which photos in the application reveal:
If you click this link to view the application, a number of Heritage Statements can be viewed.
The sale of the library raised controversy last year when Greenwich Council sold to a church criticised for homophobic and misogynistic remarks by a leader.
The authority had neglected not only the building but public realm outside for decades to the detriment of an eventual sale.
The library opened in 1905 as a gift from Andrew Carnegie and known Greenwich Central library before becoming known as East Greenwich. West Greenwich library remains in its original location and rather fine it is too.
Some remnants of its past remain at East Greenwich library:
Construction of the nearby Blackwall Tunnel approach flyover in the 1960s severed the local area. Library footfall was very low which resulted in a move east to the Greenwich Centre in a move which also saw the Arches leisure centre close. That is also still derelict.
However the flyover didn’t mean the cluttered, ugly public realm in the area needed to be that bad – but no effort was ever put into improving it. Even modest changes such as better lighting and painting guardrail, street furniture and under the flyover would help, but TfL nor Greenwich Council have ever shown much interest in improving the area. Even last year’s cycle lane does the bare minimum and the area is not inviting.
Whether church visitors drive or use sustainable transport is one factor to keep an eye on as usage changes.
The church intends to convert the ground floor with seating and a stage.
Click here to view the planning application.