£1m auction for Kensal Rise Library building

£1m auction for Kensal Rise Library building

The Kensal Rise Library building is up for auction this month, with a guide price of £1.15m.

Although planning permission has been granted to convert the majority of space in the building into flats, it still has a dedicated space on the ground floor earmarked for community use, which the Friends of Kensal Rise Library hope to run as a community library.

The community space is still controlled by the original owners of the building, All Souls College, Oxford, which sold the building to a developer on the basis that: "a certain amount of space in each building is leased on a rent-free basis for 999 years to enable continued provision of library services to the residents."

Kensal Rise Library has been the focus of a long-running campaign, after it was originally closed along with five other libraries by Brent Council in 2011. The library had originally been gifted to the council by All Souls College, and was opened by American author Mark Twain in 1900. Since its closure, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library has fought to open a community-run library in the building, with the support of celebrities including Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman and Zadie Smith.

A pop-up library set up by campaigners was dismantled by All Souls College after nearly two years in February, before the building was passed to a property developer.

Ensuing negotiations saw the College and developer agree to devote a space in the building to community use, which the Friends group has applied to run as a library.