Nottingham City Council has announced plans for the £10.5m fit-out of the city’s new Central Library and for it to be ready to open to the public next summer.
The development is part of the building that houses the new Broad Marsh Car Park and Bus Station and is one of the key elements of the regeneration of the city’s Southside area.
A report to the council’s Executive Board on May 24 outlines that a number of assessments of the design and affordability of the scheme have been carried out and recommends that the council now begins the internal fit-out of the library from July. Careful management of the city’s property portfolio and successful sales have made the development affordable from within the Council’s capital programme.
The new library, spread over three floors and fully accessible via lifts, will feature a high-quality children’s library with an immersive story telling room, extensive book collection and comfortable areas to sit and read. Other amenities will include:
- Feature book walls and shelving to display a large collection of books
- Free wi-fi and free access to computers, laptops and iPads
- A café & ground floor reception area which can be converted into a performance space
- Specialist and rare collections room for local study material
- Learning lab for special activities and school class visits
- Meeting rooms
- Exhibition space
- Creative design areas
- Business Intellectual Property Centre for the city.
The provision of the new Central Library has been considered as part of a thorough Libraries Needs Assessment commissioned by the council, which has been subject to extensive public consultation to help better understand what communities require from a modern library service. Feedback during consultation showed that the Central Library played an important role in delivering part of the city’s overall offer, with over 60% of respondents in the first phase saying this was often the library they visited, in addition to using their own local neighbourhood one.
The Central Library’s depth of stock and specialist collections is seen as a fundamental part in fulfilling the city’s Library Strategy and a key link to ensuring and supporting community library delivery and development.
The new library building is surrounded by transformed streets, with extensive pedestrianisation, planting and seating offering pleasant places to walk, cycle and relax. Similar work is also planned for Collin Street alongside the new library to become fully pedestrianised, with a new plaza planned to link through the demolished section of the former shopping centre to Lister Gate and the city centre beyond. A masterplan is in place outlining a vision for the Broad Marsh site, including green space, an enhanced entrance to the City of Caves attraction and a mixture of housing, retail and leisure uses.
City Council leader, Councillor David Mellen, said: “If approved, Nottingham’s new Central Library will be a key element of the regeneration of this part of the city which is well underway, and I’m pleased we are able to announce our plans for its fit-out. I’m really excited to recommend to our Executive that this great new facility should start which would provide a modern Central Library including a fantastic children’s library.
“From next summer when it is scheduled to open, we expect more people to be attracted to the area, which has been undergoing a transformation for a number of years. Along with the new college at one end of Collin Street and the revitalised castle offer at the other, the library would help to breathe new life into the area with its reimagined pedestrian-friendly streets and public spaces, new car park, bus station and shops and heritage-led improvements.
“The area will change further still when the vision for the former shopping centre site can begin to be put into action, further enhancing Broad Marsh as a great gateway to the city.”
Portfolio holder for leisure, culture & planning, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “It’s exciting to see the designs for the modern Central Library. If the proposal is approved it will create a wonderful facility for all residents and visitors, but perhaps especially children who will be able to enjoy a fantastic collection of books, an immersive audio-visual story telling room and plenty of spaces to enjoy reading and take part in fun activities.
“While it was of course really important for us to carry out assessments of the scheme’s design and affordability, I understand that people are frustrated by the delay and eager to get the new facility opened – something that came across very clearly in the consultation.”
The sale of the former Central Library building at Angel Row also continues, with a planning application for its new use expected to be submitted next month.