Hundreds have signed a petition urging Barnet Council to ditch plans to move a library out of its historic home.

The online petition calls for Hendon Public Library to remain in the Grade II-listed building in The Burroughs, Hendon, where it has been housed for almost a century.

Barnet Council is consulting on plans to move the library to a new building across the road as part of the Hendon Hub development, which is designed to provide student homes and facilities for Middlesex University.

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But Hendon resident Gabbie Asher launched the petition – which now has more than 700 signatures – after seeing questionnaires drawn up by the council did not include an option to keep the library in its current home.

Ms Asher said: “The Hendon Hub survey did not have an option to say, ‘can you keep the library where it is?’ I felt so frustrated about it. It feels like it is assuming the library move is a done deal already.

Times Series: Hendon resident Gabbie Asher launched the petitionHendon resident Gabbie Asher launched the petition

“I studied for my A-levels there. Up until lockdown, my daughter went with her friends to go and work there. There is a real connection over generations.

“It has such a beautiful interior, and that adds to the whole library experience.”

Ms Asher said plans produced by the council during an online consultation event showed the library would be moved into the ground floor of a student accommodation block.

“The buildings look like three department stores beamed down into a heritage area,” she said.

“None of us understand why it is happening. There is already room on the footprint of the university to build student accommodation.

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“It’s not just that it is being moved into the ground floor of a faceless building – we are being told it will be better. But not a lot of people will want to study on the ground floor of a block of flats.”

Times Series: A sketch shows the new library would be on the ground floor of the building on the rightA sketch shows the new library would be on the ground floor of the building on the right

Ms Asher said the current library seemed to be well used up until lockdown, and there had been no attempt to bring in extra cash by opening a café, meeting room, shop or similar facility in the building.

“We need to think about what society is going to be like after Covid, with people working from home and unemployed people looking for work,” she added. “It is a place where people can provide those services.

“It is the last heritage building we have got there, and in a post-Covid world it would be incredibly helpful as a community hub.”

In a joint statement, the council and university said: “Barnet Council and delivery partners Middlesex University are working together on exciting new proposals to redevelop The Burroughs and other areas in Hendon.

“Proposals include state-of the-art facilities, including a new and improved library facility, purpose-built, modern student accommodation and improved community amenities, including shops and cafés.

“These proposals will benefit the community by providing much-needed investment into the area while providing a place for everyone.”

A Barnet Council spokesperson said residents are encouraged to use the feedback form on the Hendon Hub website to indicate their support for or opposition to the library move. They added that extra income is already raised through the hire of the building’s community room, commercial rental and the delivery of subscription services.

The spokesperson said there are no plans to demolish the existing library building, and the proposals aim to increase the use of the library and provide more community space.

The council spokesperson continued: “We are aware that there are aspects of the Hendon Hub development proposals that some residents feel strongly about.

“We are keen to address any concerns that local may have about the project and would stress that we value all of the feedback received.

“We also want to encourage local people to provide us with their views using our dedicated website by May 21, before the public consultation closes.”

A spokesperson for Middlesex University said: “The council’s consultation on the Hendon Hub proposals has been extended to May 21. This consultation offers the opportunity for all residents to provide feedback and shape the proposals on the library and wider plans.

“Middlesex University and the council are committed to reviewing plans and taking on board the feedback that they receive. Therefore, the university would encourage all members of the community to get involved and make their voices heard so that any future development reflects what the whole community wants and needs.”

The petition is available here.