The Project Group set out its ambition for the building in an Options Appraisal Brief to architects Butler Hegarty Architects (BHA) which defined the work to be done by them, primarily requiring that options should retain the building as a public resource with a library and other community resources at its heart. To balance that ambition the proposals must be financially viable in capital and revenue terms.
Links to the documents are on our Project Documents page.
Options Appraisal Report
BHA have presented their report, and the Project Group has set out its Response separately. These documents create a platform for public consultation, after which an agreed preferred option will be settled as the basis for all further technical work.
In their report BHA recognise that the use and role of libraries everywhere have changed over the years and that this will affect the kind of service delivered in future from the building. They set out a range of possible uses of all the spaces in the building in a way that respects its heritage and they consider dispositions of the main uses that will make the building manageable. The main uses are:
- A library
- Further community space, to include a large, flexible, multi-use room, one or more smaller meeting rooms, and gallery space
- Space that can be rented out to businesses
- A café/bar
- An office for the new charitable trust that will own the building
- A garden with improved facilities
- Access and toilet facilities that meet modern standards
The report highlights the principles and issues that have informed development of the options, including the heritage and architectural value of the building, the constraints imposed by heritage and architectural considerations, the needs of the community, the changing role of libraries, the formal use of spaces in the building, separation of community, library, and business uses in it, and matters of securing access that meets contemporary standards.
BHA also set out the financial background that requires the project to be viable and sustainable once the repairs, conservation work, and changes and alterations needed for the additional uses are completed. They set out the assumptions used in generating income and operational cost figures, and the staffing likely to be needed to run the building once complete.
They recommend that additional usable space can be created if planning permission can be obtained for the excavation of the basement. A considerable amount of new high-value rentable floor space can be created without impacting internal heritage considerations although windows and door access will be needed on the wall facing the rear garden, which may be a complex matter in a listed building.
The report also highlights the potential for new income-generating development within the curtilage of the site, but makes no proposals.
Option 1: Library as existing with Café in basement and workspaces in the North Wing
Option 2: Library at the front and other income-generating uses:
2a: Commercial nursery in the basement and workspaces in the North Wing
2b: Commercial gym in the basement and workspaces in the North Wing
2c: Café in the basement and residential in the North Wing
Option 3: Library at the front and workspace/café uses:
3a: Workspaces in the basement and North Wing. Ground floor café
3b: Café in the basement and workspaces in the North Wing
Note. The report contains detailed floor plans for each Option.