Library plan sparks major response

13 Oct 2021 11:28
Published by: Scott Callan

MORE than 800 people gave their views on plans to move Stockport's Central Library to the Merseyway centre in just the first two weeks of the public consultation over the proposal.

The council is looking to make the switch after winning £14.5 million from the government to transform vacant retail units in the centre. It says its plan will benefit shops and businesses across the town centre.

The library and its services would be moved from its current home on the A6 into 'Stockroom', which would be a new learning and discovery place.

However, the plan has proved controversial, with a petition signed by 7,000 people calling on the council to drop the idea. More than 1,200 people have now taken part in the consultation process.

In a statement the local authority has moved to reassure people about the future of the Central Library building and stress the positive impact the move will have on the library service.

It said: "The council is keen to give reassurances that any move of library services from the current building into Stockroom would not lead to a diminished or reduced library offer.

"Stockroom will be larger than a football pitch, offering five times the floor space of the current Central Library.

"The new 'Learning and Discovery' space would have capacity for at least 20,000 books as well as better access to digital services, support and advice and adult learning opportunities that will help people to achieve their full potential.

"Stockroom's size means it will be able to provide more space, more services, longer opening hours and more things to do."

The statement also gave a commitment that the Central Library building would not be "demolisher or abandoned in the future."

It said: "Prior to the consultation starting, the council pledged to retain public access and not sell the freehold of the building or redevelop it for flats or any other residential use. This position has not changed.

"The council has committed to safeguard the Central Library building, regardless of the outcome of the consultation, but the £14.5m Future High Streets funding cannot be spent on the existing building. The rules governing the funding mean it must be spent it on supporting the High Street and repurposing vacant retail space.

"It is not possible for the council to fund a major redevelopment of the Central Library building, and at present, there are no external funding streams available for the level of capital investment the building requires."

David Sedgwick, council cabinet member for citizen focus and engagement, said: "We continue to listen to people about this proposal and we want to hear as many views as possible from a broad cross section of residents.

"We think it's critically important to arm people with the correct information so they can make a balanced judgement based on facts."

The consultation will run until October 18. To take part visit:

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