Improving libraries in Waltham Forest

9 July 2018
Artists's impression of new Wood Street Library

Waltham Forest Council is continuing to improve the borough’s library service by creating a modern 21st century community space in the new Marlowe Road development for future generations to enjoy.  

The proposed relocated Wood Street Library will be centrally located opposite Wood Street Station in council owned premises and will offer more library space than the current site. The contemporary design will include modern furnishings and spaces, books and information, digital services, a children’s library and a café. 

Funds from the sale of the existing Wood Street Library building will be used for the relocation to Marlowe Road and an extension and refurbishment of Lea Bridge Library.

The Grade II-listed building at Lea Bridge Library will be transformed with flexible indoor and outdoor spaces that can be adapted to host a range of community activities. The library will feature a new conservatory café, exhibition space and children’s play area.

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to further improve two of our libraries and bring them into the 21st Century. Despite the council making £115 million in savings we have not reduced the number of libraries, unlike other councils, and we have continued to invest to make them more accessible and user-friendly.

“We know how much residents love their libraries. This has been clearly shown by the response to the Library Local consultation with more than 80 per cent agreeing with our library vision to create modern and attractive libraries, in accessible places, alongside other community facilities.”

Waltham Forest Council consulted with over 3,400 residents between September 2016 to January 2017 on the council’s vision for libraries and the future of library services in the borough.

The consultation found over 70 per cent of respondents wanted greater community involvement in the management of libraries.

Cllr Clare Coghill added: “As part of the plan we will set up a community engagement panel to ensure local people are part of the process. Initially they will input into the design and layout of the library but they will have a longer term role in planning activities for the library and how the space is used.  

“The current Wood Street Library will remain open until it moves to Marlowe Road in late 2019 and the relocation will not affect access to library services.

“There is clearly great love for this building but unfortunately renovating it isn’t the most effective or efficient way to spend council money.

“The Wood Street Library no longer meets the needs of residents. We need to attract younger people and encourage residents who used the library to return.  Our libraries need to be contemporary and relevant to the whole community.” 

The cost to renovate the current Wood Street Library site would be £2.3 million and there is no budget to fund these additional costs. Funding for the relocation of the library to the new Marlowe Road site and the extension of Lea Bridge Library will come from the sale of the current library building along with a £411,000 grant from the Greater London Authority’s Good Growth Fund.

A proposal will go to Waltham Forest Council Cabinet on Tuesday 17 July. A virtual reality tour showing the possible design of the new library is available at


Artist's impression of new, upgraded Wood Street Library
Artist's impression of new, upgraded Wood Street Library


Artist's impression of new, upgraded Wood Street Library
Artist's impression of new, upgraded Wood Street Library


Artists' impression of new Wood Street Library
Artist's impression of new, upgraded Wood Street Library