Controversial plans to allow a fast-food chain to take over the running of New Cross Library were approved today by Lewisham Council.
The newly renamed Lord of the Fries will be a “mixed-use space incorporating library and computer services alongside a fantastic new restaurant.”
The takeaway chain Community Chicken will acquire the lease of the building from Lewisham Council on May 28.
The borough’s historic archives, held for a number of years in the basement of New Cross Library, will be removed to make way for a new walk-in freezer.
In their proposal Community Chicken pledged to keep “a fair amount” of library services in operation, although there is no obligation from the council for them to do so.
A spokesperson for the fast-food chain said: “We are very excited to have been given this fantastic opportunity. We can assure the residents of New Cross that their library services, although reduced in size, will be of the same or better standards than before.”
They added: “We don’t think there is anything incongruous about combining fast-food and literature, and we think this has the potential to get a greater part of the community reading.”
Hundreds of local residents have signed a petition in opposition to the takeover. Parents have criticised the decision to offer a free piece of chicken or small fries for every five books taken out.
Christina Stevens, 28, who lives opposite the library, said: “I think it’s despicable that they are going to be feeding up my kids with all that grease. The only option I have now is to ban my kids from reading.”
New Cross Library was earmarked for closure earlier this year, and the council considered a number of proposals before making their decision.
Angela Phillips, a lecturer at nearby Goldsmiths College, said: “I do hope they will make sure that they have got places for people to wash their hands in between eating chicken and reading the books.”