Friern Barnet Library’s new listed status will not prevent plans to sell the building, according to Barnet Council’s deputy leader.
Mother-of-two Maria Persak-Enefer successfully applied to have the building in Friern Barnet Road recognised for its “significant contribution to the borough’s heritage and character”.
While its new status as a building of local architectural or historical interest does not afford it any special planning exemptions, Barnet Council’s own guidelines state that planning committees should aim to “preserve and enhance these historic buildings wherever possible”.
But the ruling Conservative group, which closed the library in April, is looking to sell the asset for at least £400,000 if it can legally evict a group of squatters that has occupied the building since early September.
The authority is awaiting the verdict of a hearing at Barnet County Court on December 18 over whether the group, which has opened its own community library at the facility, can be ousted.
Deputy leader Councillor Dan Thomas says the property’s new status as a listed building will have no impact on its plans to sell and these will go ahead pending the outcome of December’s hearing.
He said: “The only impact this will have is on whoever takes the site on in terms of what they may or may not be able to do with the building.
“We can still market it so it doesn’t stop anything from that point of view.”
Mrs Persak-Enefer, a self-employed architect, wrote to Barnet Council’s planning department to apply for the status in June.
The Polish-born Dale Green Road resident has lived in Friern Barnet for 30 years and says she was delighted when it made the list, which was published last week.
She said: “I felt it really deserved the nomination. It is a fine local building and an example of good architecture. My family and I have used the library there for years and I’m very passionate about it.”
The building is currently the subject of a well-supported campaign to have the library reopened but Mrs Persak-Enefer says she acted on her own interests in applying for the status.
She said: “It still has the opportunity to serve as a fantastic community building. I personally feel very strongly about historic buildings and think we have an obligation to look after them for the next generation.
“Barnet Council has shown it is willing to recognise the importance of this building and that is important for Barnet. These buildings are our heritage – this is my own endeavour and I feel it is worth it.”