Decision to turn Canning Town Library into a Nando’s deferred
PUBLISHED: 10:18 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:18 09 October 2018
A decision to turn Canning Town Library into a Nando’s has been deferred.
At a meeting of Newham’s planning committee last night (Monday), officers voted to defer the plan to “seek further community opininon”.
The proposals had caused controversy, with councillors, MPs, and trade union GMB speaking out against them.
Under the plans, the Grade II listed building would be turned into a Nando’s on the ground floor, with the first floor being kept for a potential community use.
In the open letter, which was signed by 37 councillors, East Ham MP Stephen Timms, West Ham MP Lyn Brown, and London Assembly member for City and East, Unmesh Desai, councillors said they wanted to see the building used for community orientated purposes.
It said: “We believe the building’s heritage should be reflected in its future use and the building should be used for other more productive heritage and community orientated purposes.
“We have nothing against Nando’s but believe there are other local alternative sites that the council can offer to them.”
Members from GMB also spoke out against the proposals, with Tim Roache, the union’s general secretary, pledging to fight the decision on Twitter.
The GMB was created after the founder, Will Thorne, gave a speech at the library in 1889.
GMB’s regional secretary Warren Kenny said: “This bird-brained move by Newham Council shows an utter disregard for east London’s proud history.
“GMB understands local authorities have been driven to the wall by the Conservative’s austerity project. But we had been in talks with Newham about turning the library in to a learning space – which GMB would have had offices in.
“Instead they’ve chosen to feather their own nest and allow GMB’s birthplace to become yet another chicken shop.”
The library closed last year and services were moved to a community centre in Rathbone Market. Council officers said it was costing “£2,000 per week to maintain the security of the building” and Nando’s was identified as the “preferred occupier”.
A Nando’s spokeswoman said: “We know the library building means a lot to the community. That’s why we’re planning to keep as much of the building’s original features and character as we can.”