Housing development vision to keep Muswell Hill library in listed building

Architect Chris Roche has sketched original designs for a housing development in the car park to the

Architect Chris Roche has sketched original designs for a housing development in the car park to the rear of Muswell Hill libary - Credit: Archant

A renowned architect has unveiled original new designs to keep Muswell Hill Library in its current building, home to a library since 1931.

Chris Roche, of 11.04 architects, says if proposals for the library to be moved to the site of the old Green Man go ahead, it would be like “replacing Waitrose with Iceland”.

He has sketched out initial plans for a housing development in the car park to the rear of the library.

The money from this would fund improvements for the library building, including better buggy and wheelchair access.

Mr Roche has even sourced a developer who would potentially be interested in the project.

Under the plans, Mr Roche has envisioned creating four new family mews-style houses to the rear of the council-owned site, releasing around £1.5m from the sale.

This money could be used to fund library improvements and other borough projects. The proposal includes an extension to the rear of the library which would provide disabled and nappy-changing toilets, together with a wheelchair lift and a 20-person meeting room, providing a community resource.

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Mr Roche is also exploring an option to create a small roof-terrace above the entrance lobby “so on a fine day you can take a coffee onto the landscaped roof garden and read a book in the open air”.

A Friern Barnet developer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is theoretically willing to buy the parking site for around £1.5m.

He is also willing to pay 50 per cent towards the cost of the proposed new library extension.

The developer told the Ham&High he was attracted by the “great location”, close to the Broadway, and that Muswell Hill needs more housing.

The Muswell Hill library public consultation has closed, although the results have not yet been released.

Haringey Council’s preferred option is for it to be moved to the site of the former Green Man pub, for “modern and accessible” facilities.

It claims it would cost £680,000 to £1,650,000 to make the current library building disability-friendly.

In an online response to frequently asked questions, Haringey Council said selling the land to the rear is not “financially viable”.

There are concerns the pedestrian footpath in Avenue Mews is not accessible for the disabled.

The council added: “Safe and accessible pedestrian access to the land at the rear of the library is not possible, and thus limits its development for residential or other properties.”

Both Haringey and Camden councils have committed to keeping all their libraries open.