London SE1 website team

1.2m library to open in Elephant & Castle shipping containers

Southwark Council will this summer open a temporary public library at Elephant & Castle as part of The Artworks, a 'retail and creative business hub' built from 50 recycled shipping containers.

1.2m library to open in Elephant & Castle shipping containers

The new library – at the corner of Walworth Road and Elephant Road – will serve as a temporary replacement for Newington Library which has been closed since a devastating fire swept through the adjacent town hall building in January 2013.

Plans for the 1.2 million library – which could remain in place for up to five years – are due to be approved by Southwark Council's cabinet next week.

Last spring opening hours were extended at John Harvard Library and East Street Library to compensate for the closure of the Newington branch.

"Demand for the use of other library facilities has increased since the closure of Newington Library with around 400 additional customers using the John Harvard Library on a daily basis which is creating additional pressures for the service and leading to delay and other frustrations for customers," said a report prepared for cabinet members.

"This additional demand is creating extra costs including security. The loss of quiet space for use by students to undertake revision/homework (particularly at exam time) and access to IT facilities is a particular issue for the area which needs to be addressed in the short term."

The council is also proposing the temporary relocation of the Cuming Museum – which has also been shut for more than a year – to Chumleigh Gardens in Burgess Park.

Next Tuesday's cabinet meeting will approve the project mandate for the future of the fire-damaged former town hall in Walworth Road.

The long-term redevelopment of the old town hall could include the relocation of the Southwark Local Studies Library – currently situated at the rear of John Harvard Library – as part of a centralisation of the borough's art and heritage services.

• Businesses due to open at The Artworks in Elephant Road include Elephant Shack, a cafe, bar and bakery.

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