Labour opposition asks for rethink over plan to sell Chislehurst Library

By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter

A controversial decision to sell Chislehurst Library is to be looked at again after concerns were raised by the opposition Labour Group.

Labour leader Angela Wilkins confirmed the party had ‘called-in’ the decision to sell the library, in Red Hill, to development firm Prime PLC, hours before the deadline for referral, citing concerns over transparency and the value of the sale.

The move now means the issue will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of Bromley council.

Ms Wilkins said: “I’m not convinced selling the property to developers Prime represents best value for the council,” the Crystal Palace ward member said following the move.

“There are some very serious questions to be answered which we’ll be asking.”

It comes following significant outcry from Chislehurst residents over the future of the historic building.

In their reasons for initiating a call-in, Labour cites “inadequate evidence” that the sale represents “the best possible return” for the council.

Labour also pointed to a lack of “scrutiny and transparency”, after only basic details of the proposal were revealed at meetings earlier this month and too late for the public to comment on them.

The council announced on September 16 it had sold the land with developers Prime appointed to oversee the construction of a new library and medical facilities at the site.

Prime said in a statement it would work with nearby medical practices the Chislehurst Medical Centre and The Woodlands Practice to revamp the historic building.

Details about the development were largely kept under wraps until a September 2 meeting, when it was suggested a mixed-use proposal – including a new library and potentially new homes – was being viewed for the site.

The plan for homes however ditched in favour of a third medical facility on the high street stretch.

Bromley Cllr Peter Morgan, the executive member for renewal, recreation and housing, said earlier this month the plan was “very positive news” for the future of the library.

“We did want to publicly share this welcome news as soon as we could, which will be subject to consultation as part of the planning process which the developer will need to bring forwards,” he said.

Pictured top: Chislehurst Library

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