Jacksons Lane Arts Centre and Highgate Library are in discussions to explore the possibility of sharing the same site. Jacksons Lane is working with Architect Katy Marks of Citizens Design Bureau, who is looking at the feasibility of a multi-million pound building project to transform Jacksons Lane, possibly enabling Highgate Library to relocate there. Could this deliver opportunities for the two organisations to improve provision and be secure in the long term? Or is it not feasible?

Jacksons Lane first approached Haringey Council and the Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) to discuss the possibility of relocating Highgate Library to Jacksons Lane Arts Centre, at the corner of Archway Road and Jacksons Lane. They wondered if it might be possible to create a new, re-developed cultural centre with the library within it – and in doing so, safeguard the future of both Jacksons Lane Theatre and the Library. At their AGM, HLAG members voted and agreed to be part of the Architectural Feasibility discussions. Jacksons Lane also spoke to The Library Campaign, the national organization for defending libraries across the country, who said Highgate Library Action Group were the local experts. Jacksons Lane also approached The Carnegie Trust, who recently published a report on the future of libraries in Britain, who felt it was an interesting idea worth investigating.

Cllr Bernice Vanier, Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Culture, said: “We really welcome the idea put forward by Jacksons Lane, which could see two of Highgate’s best loved community and culture venues brought together.

“We’re committed to keeping and improving all of the borough’s libraries, which is why we’re clear that any move would have to be in the best interests of the local community and library users. We look forward to working closely with both Jacksons Lane and the Highgate Library Action Group to develop proposals further before any decisions are made.”

Susan Chinn, Chair of Highgate Library Action Group, said: “The HLAG committee is committed to serving the library and will cooperate in the local consultation and feasibility study for this interesting and thought provoking project.

“We want to allow all voices to be heard and answered during a period of discussions. Libraries are a precious heritage in whatever form they take and the future of Highgate Library must be assured.”

No decisions have been made yet, but there are many conversations being had in the local community – some of which have resulted in some misunderstandings. Some of those misunderstandings are addressed here:

There is no proposed merger between Jacksons Lane and Highgate Library.

The architectural feasibility study is considering whether there is enough space on a redeveloped and expanded Jacksons Lane site to house the library. This would involve an ambitious building project, creating new community facilities that could house both organisations, protecting and enhancing services into the future.

The library would continue to be funded by Haringey Council

Jacksons Lane and Highgate Library would continue as two separate organisations, with separate funding streams. If it is feasible for both organisations to be based at Jacksons Lane, they will work together to explore how best to share the space based on research into what has worked well elsewhere and determine a model that suits both parties.

Nothing has been decided.

All parties accept that it may not be possible to create something transformational within the budgets available – if an option that is better than the present one cannot be found then Jacksons Lane and Highgate Library will remain as they are. Haringey Council have voted in principle to support the refurbishment of Jacksons Lane without a Library if the co-location proves not to be feasible. 

Questions being considered include:

1.    Can services delivered by both organisations be enhanced by bringing the organisations together under one roof?

2.    Can Jacksons Lane and the Library both continue to deliver their full programme of activities, classes and courses in the redeveloped site?

3.    If it were to move, should the library have its own separate entrance?

4.    Would being next door to Jacksons Lane drive more footfall to the library?

5.    Are there areas of the Jacksons Lane building that library-users would like access to?

The future of this idea is dependent on the conclusions of the architectural feasibility study, funding from Haringey Council, Arts Council England, and funding from other sources.

Broader questions:

We're very aware that there are broader questions than purely architectural issues to be considered. Whilst they may not be within the scope of an Architectural study, it is recognised that it is difficult to have a meaningful conversation without acknowledging the need for a broader conversation answering some difficult questions:

1. What would happen to the old library building? 

2. Is it justified to sell off a public asset?

3. Will the Library retain its independence from Jacksons Lane? Is this a first step to closure?

The Architectural feasibility study doesn't address these questions directly, but one of the engagement sessions will be run by senior figures from Haringey Council who will address questions and explain the context to this study.

Input from the community is welcomed – you can view the architectural drawings on display both on this website and in both Jacksons Lane and Highgate Library, Shepherds Hill. Questionnaires can be filled in on this website or are available at Jacksons Lane and the Library. They can be returned to us either via email or by handing them in at, or posting to, either Highgate Library or Jacksons Lane.

Thank you for joining the conversation.

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