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An ageing and underused library will be ripped down and rebuilt as part of a multi-million pound development announced today.

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Around 30 new family homes will also go up on wasteland currently plagued by fly-tipping as part of the plan for the Lower Hilldrop Estate, off Dalmeny Avenue, Holloway.

The John Barnes Library, named after a local councillor, was opened on the estate 40 years ago, but visitor numbers have dropped from a peak of 83,000 per year to just 55,000 and the building is need of a re-fit.

The entrance is set back from the road and obscured by trees and Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and adult social care, hopes the new design will get more people through the doors.

She said: “We are really excited because this will encourage people to come to the library and we know if children read for pleasure, it has more effect on future job prospects than anything else.

“We also want to raise adult literacy levels right across the borough. I am a genuine library user trying to encourge more people to use them.”

The library will be moved to a porta-cabin when work commences, although that is unlikely to be until January 2014. The development is expected to take up to 18 months.

The scheme will also see new family homes built on the former site of Bramber House, which housed eight bedsits, 70 per cent of which will be social housing.

Under the council’s new local lettings policy, people living nearby will have priority on the brand new homes.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “People seem genuinely happy with the idea that those most affected by building works get first choice of the new properties. They want to see the policy to check it’s real.

“Family housing is what we desperately need to tackle in the borough, particularly at a time when new housing being built by the government has high rents.”

In addition to the library and homes, an area which is currently a car park will be turned into a green space.

Other amenities, including a children’s play area, may be possible depending on public opinion.

The council wants to hear what people think about the proposals, including what facilities it should have. Visit www.islington.gov.uk/consultations for more information.

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