Stockport library ready for controversial move from historic home to £ 14m hub despite thousands signing petition

The Stockholm Central Library is set to move from its historic home to a new £ 14 million hub despite a ‘mixed’ public reaction to the controversial proposals.

Generations of readers have enjoyed the Class II-listed library on the A6, but it seems the end of an era is now in sight.

A new council report recommends transferring services from the Georgian building to a modern ‘learning and discovery center’ at Merseyway funded by the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

READ MORE : New photos show what a controversial £ 14million hub proposed to replace the historic library might look like

Preliminarily christened ‘Stockroom’, ‘place of culture and society’ on Adlington Walk would also house facilities including drop-in services, event rooms and a café.

The report, which will reach the Cabinet next month, reads: “It is recognized that there is a strong devotion to both the building and the service that has been provided from there for the past 100 years.

“However, it is believed that a sufficiently convincing argument has not been put forward to retain the service in the existing building when it is weighed against the possibility of offering a new common facility the size of the Stockroom in Merseyway and the difficulty of providing an improved offer in Central Library Building. “

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Some setbacks are likely given that nearly 7,500 people have signed an online petition against the move, arguing “there is only one use for the Central Library building and that is its designed purpose as a public library”.

This comes after an eight-week consultation did not create an overwhelming consensus, either for or against the ‘Stockroom’ plan.

In a face-to-face survey of 566 residents, 47 per cent. agree with the proposal, while 29 per cent. disagreed, and a further 25 per cent. were unresolved.

CGI image of a proposed new warehouse at Adlington Walk, Merseyway, Stockport.

However, an online survey conducted by 1,752 residents yielded a different result.

About 55 percent. was against the move, while 38 per cent. advocated relocation services. Another 7 PCs had no preference or ‘did not know’.

People aged 65 and over were ‘significantly’ more likely to disagree with the proposals, but 65 per cent. of the kids thought it was a good idea.

But the report to the Cabinet says there would be no negative impact on the elderly and disabled if the library were to be relocated.

It adds: “Although the consultation revealed that older people and people with a disability or long-term health condition generally disagreed with the proposal to move Central Library’s services to Stockroom, it was widely acknowledged that Stockroom’s proposals were likely to make library services more accessible.

“This will be for people with disabilities and other groups such as families with young children, people from ethnically diverse communities and LGBTQ + people.

Performance space in the proposed storage space in Merseyway, Stockport.

“The possibility of expanding the participation of under-represented groups involved in modernizing a service and offering broader facilities that would not be possible in the Central Library building should be considered when considering proposals.”

The report also acknowledges that the Central Library building is “loved” by Stockport residents and indicates a number of potential future uses.

What do you think about the move? Have your say in our comments below

Five options have been presented to the library after the services were transferred to Stockroom.

These include:

  • Relocation of the Adult Education Service from Hardman Street
  • A new primary health service for the city center
  • A new common business space in the city center
  • Aco-working / common workplace
  • Relocation of Coroner’s Court from Mount Tabor

These applications will cost between £ 3m and £ 4m, requiring more work to explore business cases in detail.

City Hall managers will also need to talk to the potential occupants of the building.

If the library service is removed from the current building, executives say the earliest it could be put back into use is likely to be in early 2024.

Any agreements with future residents will ensure “regular public access to the building”, with the details to be finalized once its new use is decided.

An additional report is to be brought to the Cabinet next summer before a final decision is made on the future use of the building.

The proposals will be discussed at an informal meeting of the Central Stockport Area Committee on Wednesday evening (November 17).

Representatives of Save Stockport’s Historic Central Library campaign, organized by the Stockport United Against Austerity, will make a presentation and answer questions from council members.

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