The controversial church that now owns the former East Greenwich Library has revealed its plans to refurbish the Grade II listed landmark.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) bought the closed-down library from Greenwich Council for £1.8 million in 2019; however, the sale did not become public knowledge until last December when it was revealed in a Metro investigation into the sale of public buildings.
RCCG’s head, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has branded gay marriage “evil” and claimed that married women “need to know how to do chores”.
One local councillor, Chris Lloyd, said he was “disgusted” at the sale to the church, but Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe insisted that he had no control over the choice of buyer.
RCCG now plans to rename the building Inspiration House and convert the main ground floor library space – which was divided with a partition in the 1990s – into a church with seating and a stage, a planning application submitted to the council reveals.
Rather than a change of use and conversion into a church, this application is to repair and renovate the building, which had been in a poor condition for decades and was left to crumble when the council moved the library to the Greenwich Centre in 2015.
The library was donated to the community by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and served as the central library for the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich. It survived a closure attempt in the early 1990s, but was downgraded and neglected in the following years.
The building is judged to be in a “poor” condition, a survey submitted to planners says, with leaking roofs the main culprit. “Roofs are in poor condition generally, and are the main contributing factor in the poor condition of the building fabric elsewhere through water ingress,” it says.
Vegetation is growing into the building while some of the parquet flooring has been seriously damaged. Part of the ceiling at the rear of the building has collapsed, while the rest is at risk of collapse.
RCCG’s purchase of the property “followed an apparent lengthy period of limited investment in maintenance and repair, as well as the carrying out of unsympathetic works”, the application says.
The council’s use of cement pointing has resulted in “spiralling and decay to the bricks”, it adds.
While some work has been carried out already, RCCG plans to install new fire doors and secondary glazing, reinstate the parquet flooring and, put in roof insulation.
Pentecostal churches such as RCCG are able to handle expensive renovation projects such as East Greenwich Library because they have a regular income from churchgoers around the world. In December 2018 the council received an enquiry about converting the building into 15 flats, but the tentative proposal was later withdrawn.
The application – including a heritage survey and condition survey with scores of photos of little-seen areas of the building – can be found on the Greenwich Council planning website.
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