Council oppose 'indefensible' plans to convert former library into flats

PUBLISHED: 18:30 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 27 March 2019

Highbridge Library closed in December.	Picture: Google Street View

Highbridge Library closed in December. Picture: Google Street View

Google Street View

Councillors have unanimously opposed plans to convert a town's former library into flats at a meeting last week.

The proposals were considered ‘indefensible’ after Highbridge lost its ‘valuable little building’ in Market Street last December.

The area’s Chamber of Trade argued that the town would soon be ‘swamped with housing’ and called on Burnham and Highbridge councillors to ‘abolish’ the plans submitted by Sedgemoor District Council.

At the meeting on March 18, participants argued that more needed to be done to ‘utilise’ the town’s retail centre, while others claimed there was ‘absolutely no need’ for two flats to be built in Highbridge.

Cllr John Parkes said: “It is merely indefensible to have a meeting on this – it just beggars belief.

“The public needs to see we are consistent and we are looking to retain this building for retail use.

“I am totally against the application.”

Cllr Nick Tolly said: “There is a fantastic amount of housing in the town, and I would not like to lose it to flats.

“It is such a valuable little building, and it’s another part of Highbridge we have lost forever.”

Multiple developers are looking to build hundreds of homes in the town, including those at sites across Brue Farm, Walrow and Isleport Lane.

MORE: Somerset libraries at risk of closure

The Chamber of Trade’s Mike Murphy said: “The library has an important function to play in Highbridge.

“Why would we want to take away from the town’s history?

“We don’t have enough amenities and shops here, and soon we are going to be swamped with housing.”

He added: “I have concerns Sedgemoor has the wrong approach, and I recommend you abolish this application.”

Cllr Louise Parkin said: “This is in the retail centre of Highbridge, and I can see absolutely no need for two flats to be built in the town’s retail development area.

“The more people we can encourage to use the centre of the town, the better.”

The council rejected the building proposals, arguing that they failed to comply with the area’s neighbourhood plan.

The council also cited what it considered to be inadequate flood-mitigation systems.

As to whether the flats are built in the town, Sedgemoor will have the final say.

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