Old Oldham Library, Oldham Council, P Planning Documents
The old Oldham Library in its heyday and what its interior looks like today. Credit: via planning documents

Oldham advances historic library revamp

Julia Hatmaker

The transformation of the dilapidated grade two-listed library building into a cultural hub moves forward after the council approved plans for repairs and alterations to make it suitable for development.

Plans to turn the 1883 library off Union Street into a heritage centre were first approved in 2015, with revised designs by architect Mecanoo and planner Paul Butler Associates being approved in 2016 and again in 2018. Gilbert-Ash carried out a strip-out of the building.

Ellis Williams Architects has since replaced Mecanoo on the project.

Surveys and investigations into the building have since shown a need for severe alterations to make it safe and ready for development. That’s what the latest application is focused on, calling for a new roof, removal of flooring, filling the sub-basement and getting rid of sections of walls and staircases.

A design statement from Ellis Williams Architects outlines the state of the building, noting that the roof is failing and 90% of plasterwork on the walls needs replacing. There are collapsing ceilings and permanent puddles on some parts of the floor.

The recently approved plans also call for building changes to enable level access and lifts. Ellis Williams’ designs also include the addition of solar panels to the southern roof of the structure.

These changes are considered priority work to not only secure the site but to enable it to be redeveloped, according to the planning application. Those exact redevelopment plans are slated to be outlined in a future application.

The project team is:

  • Architects: Ellis Williams Architects
  • Structural and civil engineers: Curtins
  • Mechanical and electrical engineers: Arup
  • Costings: RLB
  • Heritage consultant: Richard Baister
  • Fire consultant: WYG
  • Planning consultant: LSH
  • Acoustic consultant: AEC

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