Southgate college plans to demolish Southgate library and build a new facility a few yards away as part of an £80m college modernisation plan.

The college wants to raze all the buildings on its main campus except the five storey tower, which all date from the 1960s onwards and open a new, state-of-the-art campus containing a large public foyer which could be used for public exhibitions.

To do this they want to use the land on which the public library currently stands, but will replace the library with a more modern building, designated for the public, which still opens onto the High Street.

Speaking to the Independent on his first day as college principal, David Byrne said: "The council doesn't have the money for a new library, but we can get a grant for the rebuild and do the design. At the moment we have a mishmash of buildings. People find it difficult to get in and out. Now we have an opportunity to redesign something showcasing the best of what we do and giving the public the chance to use these facilities."

He added: "The theatre needs to be fit for 21st century performances. You can programme lights now and have an integrated sound system. We want to design a theatre that can use technology as it is at the moment."

Some eco-friendly measures such as solar panels are included in the plans.

Mr Byrne added that the plans are in their early stages. He said plans for a four-floor building, which was to house the library, were revised to two floors after members of the public complained.

Dr Maggie Butt, a Southgate High Street resident, wrote to the paper saying she was concerned that the new building would block the view of the listed Georgian houses next to the college, result in the loss of green space, and "completely change the nature of the high street."

She said: "[The college] proposes to build a Stalinist-type concrete piazza, enclosed on three sides. It claims this would be a beacon for Southgate but it would be a beacon for skateboarders, drug dealers and late-night drinkers, creating a nuisance, a security risk and wasting police time."

The new college is aiming to open in 2013, outline planning permission will be sought in mid-January. Plans can be viewed at the council planning office. Let us know what you think by emailing