Lewisham Council’s feasibility study into whether it can redevelop Lewisham library and build rented council homes or cut staff hours to fund a £450,000 shortfall is due on May 8.

Proposals to cut staff hours in 2020 were put on hold while the council looked into whether rented council housing on-site could help pay for a new library.

Head of service in culture and community development, James Lee, said the feasibility study was a structural assessment of what could be built on the Lewisham library site.

“We are asking questions of structural engineers and they are coming back to us to say whether it’s possible,” he explained.

“It is not straightforward to assess what it would look like in planning terms.”

Cllr Jonathan Slater gave assurances the Save Lewisham Libraries campaign would be included in plans once the study was over.

“Once we are a bit clearer in terms of how to take it forward we will bring them in for a meeting. I am keen to work with them and get their ideas about how we can deliver an effective Lewisham library service overall,” he said.

Campaigners had raised concerns they had not been included in feasibility study discussions, but Mr Lee said the study did not look into the design of the library, which would involve the campaign.

“I would like to be clear, nothing is hidden.

“They are not missing out on anything.

“We don’t know almost more than they do,” he added.

Addressing concerns about redundancies, Cllr Slater said no decisions had been made.

“Once we have the feasibility study and we are clear about what we want, everything will  follow,” he said.

A Save Lewisham Libraries campaign spokesperson said they looked forward to the findings of the study, and hoped staff had been reassured they were not being made redundant this year.

"The campaign is still very unclear how building a new library can mitigate against any cuts and would be interested to hear how this would work. We understand that actual figures might be hard to pin down right now, but the method of mitigating the cuts could be made more transparent," she added.

Library staff have already seen significant cuts in their hours since 2011, when libraries in Blackheath Village, Sydenham, Crofton Park, New Cross and Grove Park were closed and reopened as volunteer-run libraries.

In 2016, a further four libraries were closed in Forest Hill, Catford, Torridon Road, and Manor House – with Forest Hill, Manor House and Torridon Road libraries reopening in 2017 to be run by volunteers.