Fears for future of library building
PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 June 2011
Copyright Archant Ltd
HERITAGE campaigners in Weston fear the town's library building will be left to ruin if a proposal by district bosses to move the service is approved.
North Somerset Council is a step closer to closing the redbrick building in the Boulevard and relocating the service to the Town Hall following the submission of a planning application last week.
Council bosses say the sale of the building would contribute toward the unitary authority’s bid to make savings of £47.3million by 2015.
The proposal was rubber-stamped when the budget was agreed upon by the council’s executive in February, but planning approval needs to be won before it goes ahead.
However, members of the Save Weston Library group say the council should think again before sealing the fate of the town library building.
Member Martha Perriam told the Mercury: “We fear the plan will just create another old, empty building in the town which will end up going derelict like the rest of them.
“Not only will this side of town lose an important service, but the it will lose an historic site which has been used by residents for decades.”
Calling the planning application submission ‘a blow’, the protestor said the group had now applied for the building, designed by Hans Price in the 1900s, to be listed by the English Heritage.
She said the move was a precautionary measure to protect the building if it is targeted for redevelopment.
The council has said it will spend £9.7million on revamping the Town Hall as part of the library move.
The ground floor, which is currently used for offices, would be turned into an open-plan area to create a ‘new public gateway’.
A spokesman for Alec French Architects, which is working for the council on the proposal, said: “While the existing library is well used, the building is undersized for the expanded population of Weston and the facilities have a number of limitations that can be fully addressed in the new library as well as creating a bespoke 21st century library for current and future users.”
He said the new library would have more books and a larger area for computers than the existing one.
A decision is expected on the planning application by the end of July.