The South Kensington library's refurbishment plans have come to a halt following the rejection of the planning application by Westminster council. The College is required to seek a planning application for all changes, even if they are not visible on the outside of the campus.
The reason for rejection was benzene-styled solar shading intended for the library's windows, which would finally have relieved the problem of blinding sunlight heating up the upper levels. The shading was considered to be too dense by the planning committee, leading to the whole application being rejected.
It is not a complete disaster: College will resubmit the application without solar shading to allow works to continue with only a slight delay - assuming of course the plans are accepted. Following this they will submit a separate planning application for the solar shading, but students will now have to endure a good roasting during the summer for at least another year and probably one more after that.
The refurbishment plans include a number of changes to improve the ventilation of the library, including new ventilation grilles and motorised louvres in the rooflights on Level 5. When combined with the solar shading these changes would have improved the ambient temperature and atmosphere in the library without the need for environmentally unfriendly air-conditioning. Now it is likely the system will just push hot air around during the summer.
The library itself cannot be seen from outside the main body of College: members of the public only come into contact with the building when using the public right of way through Imperial College Road.
The College and Union are looking for the support of Westminster residents for the solar shading, in advance of the new planning application going in. Westminster council has a page where you can find and contact your local councillors if you live in the borough.
Given that the same council approved of the bright pink Bessemer building, Live! recommends the new planning application includes something similar for the library.