News

Library transformed into ‘living room’ to help boost high street

Hopes refurbished Fore Street Library will bring multiple benefits to Angel Edmonton, reports James Cracknell

Cutting the ribbon at the launch of Fore Street Living Room Library were (from left) Chinelo Anyanwu, Enfield Council's cabinet member for public spaces, culture and local economy; Jules Pipe, City Hall's deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills; and the council's deputy leader Ergin Erbil (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council) (1)
Cutting the ribbon at the launch of Fore Street Living Room Library were (from left) Chinelo Anyanwu, Enfield Council’s cabinet member for public spaces, culture and local economy; Jules Pipe, City Hall’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills; and the council’s deputy leader Ergin Erbil (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council)

Fore Street Library has been transformed into a “living room” as part of wider plans to “rethink” the high street and offer more opportunities for young people.

The “innovative” refurbishment of the library in Angel Edmonton has seen movable shelving units and flexible spaces introduced to allow room for community workshops, consultations, training and cultural activities to be hosted at the venue, alongside improved library facilities.

The revamp forms part of a wider £2.2million joint investment from Enfield Council and the Mayor of London to support new facilities and initiatives in Angel Edmonton, one of the most socially-deprived parts of London. A £1.1m grant from City Hall’s £70m Good Growth Fund was matched by the council, with other ongoing projects including the development of 35 low-cost business units on a disused garage site on nearby Snells Park Estate, for use by local entrepreneurs, which is set to be completed next year.

Work on the library refurbishment was completed with help from crafts people at shared workspace provider Building Bloqs, based within the nearby Meridian Water redevelopment zone.

Shortly before cutting the ribbon at a launch event last Thursday, Jules Pipe, City Hall’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, said: “This just shows what we can achieve when we bring creative people together who can commit their time and energy to the community.

“The ‘living library’ is an example of how we can use local assets so much better, and address the needs of the local area. You have met all the objectives we set [for the Good Growth Fund].

“The fund was all about enabling a resilient economy – a local high street has to be about more than just shops. We have got to totally rethink the high street. There has got to be more experiences for people and it has also got to bring people together.”


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Another key player in Angel Edmonton’s revival is a newly-established community interest company, Fore Street For All (FSFA), which was established last year using £200,000 from a City Hall funding pot aimed at boosting high streets. Bringing different local groups together, it aims develop an arts and culture programme for Angel Edmonton. An initial launch was held last December but the refurbished library now means FSFA can begin hosting regular events.

How the new Fore Street Library looks inside (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council)
How the new Fore Street Library looks inside (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council)

The council’s deputy leader Ergin Erbil explained that the new spaces created at Fore Street Library would bring multiple benefits. He said: “Enfield Council appointed architects from Jan Kattein listened to local people to ask what they wanted from their local library.

“Community groups and residents felt that the area lacked essential spaces to host events, workshops and essentially, no central place where they could find out about the significant regeneration plans in the area.

“I am delighted that the Fore Street Living Room Library delivers on these aspirations. I am especially pleased to learn that Fore Street For All will be regular users of the library hosting creative enterprise and cultural events for the community.”

Speaking to the Dispatch at last week’s launch, Chinelo Anyanwu, the council’s cabinet member for public spaces, culture and local economy, said: “Growing up round here I never had things like this. The way FSFA is investing, it is allowing the community to come together.

“I know the impact that this is having for people. Instead of hanging out in an alleyway, there is now a safe space for them to enjoy, discover and be inspired. It is about transforming the area for people who live here.”

Young performers from Chickenshed Theatre helped launch the revamped Fore Street Library last week (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council)
Young performers from Chickenshed Theatre helped launch the revamped Fore Street Library last week (credit Natalie Gee Enfield Council)

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