A ‘great improvement’ to Hastings Library has been given the go-ahead by planners today (Wednesday February 10).
The Grade II listed building in Claremont is set for major internal alterations allowing the children’s library in nearby Robertson Passage to relocate alongside facilities for adults.
Plans aim to create a more welcoming entrance area as well as rationalising office accommodation on the top three floors into the basement, opening up more of the building for public use.
The application for listed building consent was unanimously approved by East Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee.
Godfrey Daniel, chair of the committee, welcomed the overall scheme and felt it was ‘less intrusive’ on the historic building than previous proposals.
He said: “What is planned is going to be a great improvement. It’s a beautiful building on the outside but on the inside you would not think it a beautiful building.”
Planning officers said it was clear that ‘not all of the alterations were sympathetic to the building’s historic interests’.
The current plan was less ambitious than a previous scheme to extend the library into a neighbouring building, but it was ‘less invasive’ to the listed building.
Both libraries will close to the public on Saturday, February 20, at 5pm, to allow a temporary adult and children’s library to be set up in the current children’s library.
The temporary library will open to the public on Monday, March 7, at 9.30am, and will remain operational until the library in Claremont reopens in spring 2017.
Last month Chris Dowling, ESCC’s lead member for community services, said: “This refurbishment programme will create a flexible, modern library which meets the needs of the 21st century.
“It will also bring together the adults’ and children’s libraries on one, unified, easily accessible site in the heart of town.
“We do appreciate the closure while we set up the temporary library will cause some disruption for a short while, but we’d ask people to bear with us while we create a first class library facility for the people of Hastings.”
The new building will include a space to study, an increased number of public access computers and free Wi-Fi throughout the library which can be picked up on visitors’ phones, laptops, and tablets. The library will also include public toilets.
During the closure, library facilities will be available at nearby libraries in Hollington, Ore and Bexhill, while people can also use the council’s e-library to browse the catalogue and borrow e-books.
Meanwhile, local studies materials will be available during the closure period at Rye Library.
For more information visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries or call 03456 080195.
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