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Primrose Hill Community Association (PHCA) submit proposals to take over Chalk Farm library - but still need £1.2million

Mick Hudspeth and Maureen Betts

Published: 06 October 2011

A COMMUNITY group is set to launch a bid to save a library from closure – but needs £1.2million to make it happen.

The Primrose Hill Community Association (PHCA), along with the Friends of Chalk Farm Library, have lodged an official “expression of interest” with Camden Council to take over the running of Chalk Farm library in Sharpleshall Street.

Due to budget cuts, the Town Hall says it will no longer be able to manage three of the borough’s libraries. A deadline to find groups interested in taking on the job closes next month.

A partnership between the Heath and Hampstead Society and the Friends of Heath Library could take over the threatened Keats Grove branch, while the Friends of Belsize Library are hoping the Winchester Project Community Centre will submit an expression of interest to manage the Belsize branch.

In the case of Chalk Farm, the PHCA say their bid will hinge on getting funding to guarantee the library’s future for 20 years and will follow a mini-consultation among users on what they want from the building.

The group’s manager Mick Hudspeth said: “The plan is to make sure that Chalk Farm library remains a community building and preferably a library.

“The council are withdrawing all their services to the adult library by saying that we can’t stay on their system and that means that the space may have to change – it could become a book exchange, reference library, a drop-in space to read the newspapers, or it could even have a community café in there.”

He added: “Primrose Hill has very few community buildings, and once they are gone, they are gone.

“Whatever happens, if the community organisation takes on the library this building will be preserved for the community in some form, but we will need money to do that.”

Maureen Betts, chairwoman of the PHCA management committee, warned that any ideas emerging from the questionnaire could turn out to be just pipe dreams if local people don’t dig deep into their pockets as soon as possible.

She added: “If we don’t get enough pledges to make this financially viable by the beginning of November we just won’t be able to put forward a proposal to the council. This has to be a long-term plan and we have to know it will have enough funding.

“The more that people get to talk about the plans for the library the more ownership we hope that they will feel for it.”

The questionnaire on Chalk Farm library is available to download on the PHCA website ( and should be returned as soon as possible to the association.

The Friends of Heath Library and the Heath and Hampstead Society have set up a working group to study the finances of Heath Library and have held high-level talks with the council and the City of London, who own the building.

They have officially expressed an interest in taking over the site once the council withdraw support from next year.

Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Tony Hillier said: “We are very optimistic that we can secure a viable future for the Heath Library.

“We have a lot of work to do, and we will rely on the support of people who use the library and live nearby.”


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