Stockport Council has pledged to guarantee public access to the town centre’s historic Central Library, irrespective of whether library services move to a newly proposed learning hub in Merseyway.
An engagement process to deliver a £14.5 million learning and discovery space, provisionally named Stockroom, in unused retail units in the Merseyway shopping precinct is currently underway. A move of library services to Stockroom has been suggested and could enter finalised plans for the site should it garner public support from residents.
However, should residents support the creation of a new 21st Century library in Merseyway, the Council has pledged that it will retain the freehold to the current Central Library building and seek to find the right alternative uses that will allow for continued public access.
Cllr David Sedgwick, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus & Engagement, said:
We are very proud to have secured £14.5m of Government funding to deliver a new learning and discovery space which we are confident will bring hundreds of thousands of additional visitors each year to Stockport town centre.
“The proposals for Stockroom are about improving the life chances of the people of Stockport. The new space, which is the size of a football pitch, will enable us to expand our library and cultural services.
“The future of the Central Library building is a concern for all of us so, I would like to clarify the Council’s position on this.
“If through the current engagement process, the people of Stockport support an expanded 21st Century library offer in Stockroom, then there will be a formal consultation process, which could lead to library services moving from the current Central Library building on the A6 to the new Stockroom facility.
“We have already been very clear that no decision about moving library services would be taken until such a consultation has taken place.
“Whatever the result of that formal consultation process there is no intent from this Cabinet to demolish or abandon the Central Library building – it is a Grade II listed building and is a much loved and important part of our town’s heritage which we want to preserve.
“As such, Stockport Council has agreed some clear pledges for the future of the Central Library Building. We want to let people know the building will not be demolished or abandoned, the Council will not sell the freehold of the Central Library building and the Council will not redevelop the Central Library buildings for flats or any residential use.”
Should a decision be taken to move library services from this building following a full consultation, the Council is committed to pursuing alternate uses that are sensitive to the building’s character and are consistent with allowing public access to the building.
Stockport Council is keen to hear from people about what kinds of services they would like to see inside Stockport, and residents can participate in the engagement process online here.
Stockport Central Library reopened at 10am on July 19th following an extended closure due to the challenges of ensuring a Covid-safe environment while social distancing guidelines were in place.