Stockport Council has sought to respond to misconceptions over plans to relocate library services to Merseyway as a consultation on the future of Central Library progresses.
A consultation of the move of library services has so far gathered over 800 responses from members of the public, and remains open until 18th October. A previous public engagement exercise on facilities people would like to see in the Stockroom development in Merseyway showed strong support for the scheme.
The council has issued a reassurance that there will be no reduction of the library offer in proposals to relocate services from Central Library to a new learning and discovery centre, Stockroom, that will repurpose disused retail units in Merseyway.
Plans for Stockroom’s library offer will allow space for up to 20,000 books with floorspace five-times greater than currently available in Central Library; the scheme will occupy retail units formerly occupied by Mothercare, Topshop and Next in the Merseyway shopping precinct. The additional size will also allow for longer opening hours, greater provision of digital services and make services more accessible as part of the council’s plans to reverse long-term decline of use of the town centre library.
The council has also given reassurances over the future of the Central Library building. 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 Stockroom scheme will be brought forward using £14.5 million of funds from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund. While Stockport Council has committed to securing the future of the existing library building, he rules governing the funding mean it must be spent it on supporting the High Street and repurposing vacant retail space and cannot be spent on a major redevelopment of the Central Library. At present, there are no external funding streams available for the level of capital investment the building requires.
Cllr David Sedgwick 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.
“A number of misconceptions appear to have emerged so we need to set the record straight. We don’t want residents to miss out on an opportunity for better services and facilities for Stockport due to unfounded rumours.
“We want to ensure that the people of Stockport play a key role in shaping the future of our facilities and services as the town emerges from Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Consultation process runs until 18th October and the Council is keen to hear from as many people as possible. To find out more about the proposals and have your say, visit the Council’s consultation portal.