Housing beckons for library after community hub plan scrapped
PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 May 2014
MORE than a year of 'extensive discussions' has failed to agree a new community use for Weston's historic library building - increasing the likelihood that it will instead be sold for housing.
The town’s library service traded its Boulevard base for the Town Hall two years ago, and the Hans Price-designed property has lain empty since.
Businessman Richard Nightingale last year offered to buy the listed building and donate it to Weston Town Council to run as a new community hub.
But although he agreed a £250,000 price with owner North Somerset Council, detailed talks with the town authority failed to nail down a long-term plan for its use.
Extensive inquiries and intricate negotiations with other charities and community groups have also yielded no viable plans for public use – leading Mr Nightingale to admit defeat in his efforts to preserve the building.
He told the Mercury: “We are extremely disappointed that after over a year of work, we have been unable to secure a sustainable community use for this iconic Weston building that is much loved by local people.
“Historic buildings come with many difficult challenges, unlike more modern accommodation, such as larger spaces to heat, increased maintenance and ongoing refurbishment requirements.
“In the library’s case the building’s very design and location were difficult obstacles to overcome.
“Sadly therefore we have been unable to come up with a community proposal for the whole site that is practical and sustainable in the long term.
“We tried everything we could think of, exhausted every avenue, but in the end we just couldn’t give it away.
“Regardless of that, we are still committed to finding a suitable building for charity and community use in Weston and our search will continue.”
With the idea now abandoned, North Somerset will now re-advertise the building for sale on the open market.
The council’s executive member for property, Tony Lake, said: “The old library is an important building for the town, and the council had hoped its future would have been at the heart of the community.
“We have worked extensively with all interested parties but it now looks unlikely that a community solution can be found.
“Sadly, the council is now considering wider options for the building’s future.”