Old library to be new town hub
PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:21 24 June 2013
WESTON'S historic former library building could be 'handed back to the town' through a philanthropist's big-money dream to reinvent it as a 'hive of activity'.
The Boulevard library – designed by renowned Weston architect Hans Price – was closed by North Somerset Council last September when its services were moved to the Town Hall.
But Richard Nightingale, who runs family firms Nightingales Removals and Property, has put in an offer to buy it from the council and hand the day-to-day running to Weston Town Council.
He said he hoped the £350,000 building could be used as a community space, for different charities and organisations to use for free.
He said: “Nightingales were really concerned regarding the fate of the library building, following its closure last year.
“We were very concerned the building itself remained in community use and have therefore made an offer for its purchase.
“Our offer has been supportively received by North Somerset Council who have been very helpful and are giving it their due consideration.
“We have also been working closely with Weston Town Council who have also been very supportive of our proposal and hope they will able to be involved in the day-to-day running of the site.
“It is the foundation of our proposal that the former library is returned to both charity and community use, and our wish that deserving local community groups and charities should have free access to the site.”
The building could also be used as the new headquarters for Weston Town Council, currently based in Grove House in Grove Park.
Mr Nightingale said: “We hope when we move forward with it we will be able meet local organisations and charities to see how they feel they can use the site to their advantage.
“It’s an iconic building which has always been for community use and it should remain that way.
“I hope to see it become a real hive of community activity.”
Mr Nightingale’s proposal has received cross-party support, with councillors in all three of the main parties getting behind the plans.
Conservative councillor and Mayor of Weston Keith Morris said: “I think it is a great idea. It obviously needs consideration and there is a lot of work to do with issues such as parking, but in the end it could be something that would be good for the town council and good for the town.
“I’m very happy with the idea and hope we can go ahead with it.”
Liberal Democrat councillor John Crockford-Hawley - who successfully campaigned for the building to be protected through listed staus last year - said: “It is a really positive move that the building’s community use will continue.
“It’s a wonderfully positive step. It will be, I hope, a pattern for the way in which philanthropists can help pursue the betterment of the town.”
And Labour town and district councillor Richard Tucker said it was a well-known building which should be kept for public use.
He said: “I’m really pleased Mr Nightingale will be purchasing it and handing it back to the town.”