Consultation: our proposals for Library Locals

Mother and young child look at books on the library shelf

Alert

We asked for your views on proposals to relocate Higham Hill and Wood Street and refurbish Lea Bridge library. 

Since September we have been consulting on our proposals for three of the borough’s libraries.

We are now preparing a detailed briefing that will be part of the report that is presented to Cabinet. We are in the process of confirming dates for the presentation of the report, and these will be published as soon as they are available.

For more information please see the media release.

This is part of our Vision for Library Locals which means that in addition to current facilities, library locals will have:

  • enhanced ICT facilities
  • self-service technology
  • improved spaces for personal study
  • comfortable social spaces
  • meeting spaces for library and community use
  • space and flexibility to accommodate events and activities
  • other features that you’ve told us are important through the consultation on the Vision for Library Locals which can feasibly be built into the plans

During this consultation we received feedback asking for more details and a wish to express views on the proposed library moves.

In response we presented the information that was available in the July 2016 Cabinet report, and gave residents the opportunity to take part in an additional consultation survey.

Our proposals Click to get info

We are committed to managing and improving our library and information service, keeping all of our eight libraries open and within 1.5 miles of every resident. So we can do this, we want to launch an extensive programme of modernisation for three Library Locals. 

The detail of this programme was set out in the Library Locals Vision, which Cabinet approved in principle subject to this consultation, along with a number of options outlined in the table below which were available in the July 2016 Cabinet report

  Option 1 - relocation Option 2 - refurbishment and refit to Library Local Option 3 - 'do nothing' (essential maintenance will still be needed to extend the life of the building for 20 years)
Higham Hill Contribution to redeveloped hub £870,000, funded from sale of the current building - estimated value £870,000. Estimated refurbishment cost of £700,000 plus
estimated refit cost of up to £200,000.
Total estimated cost of £900,000.
Essential building maintenance cost up to the estimated refurbishment cost of £700,000.
Wood Street Estimated cost of relocation £1.2 million, funded from sale of the current building - estimated value £2.6 million. Estimated refurbishment cost of £2.3 million plus estimated refit cost of £200,000.
Total estimated costs of £2.5 million.
Essential building maintenance would still be needed at a cost up to the estimated refurbishment cost of £2.3 million.
Lea Bridge The building has a covenant that restricts its use to being a library and has had £1.1 million spent on building works in 2009/10. Estimated refit cost of £216,000, funded from surplus of sales of the other two library sites. No further essential building work needed as this was carried out in 2009/10.

The Council’s preferred option is Option 1 for both Higham Hill and Wood Street and Option 2 for Lea Bridge.

The main reason why Option 1 is the preferred option for Higham Hill and Wood Street libraries is because high level condition surveys have revealed that these two buildings need significant refurbishment just to bring them up to the standard for use as a public building for the next 20 years and the estimated costs of this refurbishment cannot be met from existing budgets. In both cases refurbishment would not be considered good use of Council funds as the cost is estimated to be close to the value of the sites.

Option 1 enables the funds required to be raised through the sale of the library sites at Higham Hill and Wood Street and reinvested into the relocation and remodelling of all three libraries, as the funds from those sales would cover the relocation and refurbishment of all three libraries. In order to meet the costs of funding refurbishment of any of the libraries without a sale of the current building(s) the Council would need to make further savings to services, reprioritise spend from other areas or raise revenue.

To summarise, the Council’s preferred option is to relocate Higham Hill and Wood Street libraries and remodel Lea Bridge library.

Our vision of community involvement in shaping the local service means providing the facilities the community want. If the decision is taken to go ahead with these proposals we will work with the local community to discuss options around detailed plans for any relocated or refurbished library local.

 

Proposal for Higham Hill Library

Higham Hill Library has been assessed as having little flexible space available. It is not considered to be conducive to supporting the literacy, numeracy, information and learning needs of the culturally diverse local community, and is not meeting the future vision for Library Locals.

The Council’s preferred option is to relocate Higham Hill Library to a newly developed community hub at Priory Court, less than half a mile from the existing library.

Subject to planning approval the current library site would be redeveloped to include housing. The development on Priory Court will include housing and a new community hub which will combine local retail space, a nursery, a community area, multi-use games area, outdoor play area and a library.

This move would enable us to increase the size of the library - the current library is 310 square metres, and the proposed new library would be 350 square metres.

We estimate that if this proposal went ahead, the new library would open in 2019-20. The current library would stay open until the new one was ready to move into.

Read the detailed business case for Higham Hill Library.

Proposal for Wood Street Library

Refurbishment of Wood Street Library would improve the current building into a modern and customer-friendly building, with a stronger IT offer and meeting space. However, as this library is currently located away from the current centre of the main retail area on Wood Street, it is unlikely that service take-up would increase as a result of refurbishment.

The Council’s preferred option is to relocate Wood Street Library to the Marlowe Road development, just over half a mile from the existing library. The current library site would be redeveloped for housing, subject to planning permission. The regeneration of Marlowe Road will see the demolition of the existing estate (not including Northwood Tower) and the development of 436 new homes; of these 150 social rented, 18 shared ownership units and 268 private homes. The development will include commercial units, a new plaza and the proposed new library. It will be delivered in 3 main phases starting on site in January 2017 and completing in 2022.

The total size of the Wood Street Library building is 740 square metres which is significantly larger than is currently being used by the library service. The actual space used for the library is 434 square metres and the size of the new library and community facility will be equivalent.

We estimate that if this proposal went ahead, the new library would open in 2019-20. The current library would stay open until the new one was ready to move into.

Read the detailed business case for Wood Street Library.

Proposal for Lea Bridge Library

Lea Bridge Library should remain in the existing building as it is well located on Lea Bridge Road near the junction with Markhouse Road/Church Road, in an area of retail activity. Also it is situated within an Historic England Grade II listed Carnegie library building which has a restrictive covenant on it that limits the use of the site to a public library.

The Council’s preferred option is to remodel and refurbish Lea Bridge Library to modernise it and give it the look and feel of the other Library Locals and Library Plus’s.

We estimate that if this proposal went ahead, the remodelled library would be ready by 2019-20. This will involve temporary closure but we will keep this to a minimum.

Read the detailed business case for Lea Bridge Library.

 

Next steps Click to get info

We will listen carefully to what residents tell us and the results from both consultation questionnaires will be analysed and a full report and Equality Impact Assessment produced.

The consultation results and Equality Impact Assessment will be considered alongside all the other evidence and information. A full report will be presented to scrutiny in March 2017 and following this the Council’s Cabinet will make the final decision on the matters arising.  

These documents will be published on our website approximately 2 weeks before the Cabinet meeting in March 2017.