Stockport Walkaround, P.Place North West
Some residents are concerned about the future of Stockport Central Library. Credit Place North West

Stockport forges ahead with library switch 

Dan Whelan

A public consultation on Stockroom, a 14,000 sq ft civic hub at Merseyway, showed “clear support” for the project, prompting the council to progress the relocation of the town’s library service from the much-loved Central Library. 

Of those who participated in the consultation, 83% of people felt that Stockroom would breathe life back into empty retail space and 70% said having community facilities in an accessible/central location would be beneficial, according to Stockport Council. 

However, some respondents raised concerns over the future of Stockport Central Library on Wellington Road, with some fearing it would be demolished or sold off if its services were moved to Stockroom. 

The council is working with consultancy CBRE to draw up a list of potential future uses for the building, which has seen usage drop by 42% since 2012, according to the authority. 

In addition, Stockport Council now plans to launch another round of consultation, specifically focussing on the relocation of the library services. 

The consultation will run for eight weeks from 23 August. 

Stockroom1

Stockport has been awarded £14.5m from the FHSF for Stockroom. Credit: Stockport Council

Draft consultation documents seek to reassure the public that the building will not be demolished, sold, or redeveloped into housing. 

“The council will seek future uses that would be sensitive to the historic nature of the building and would retain public access to the building,” the documents state. 

A petition opposing the relocation has garnered more than 7,000 signatures so far. 

The council maintains that the Central Library is not fit for purpose as a modern facility and would require significant investment of around £7m to repair and upgrade it, a sum the council cannot afford. 

Critics of the library plan have also asked why the £14.5m awarded from the government’s Future High Streets Fund, earmarked for the creation of Stockroom, cannot be used to revamp Central Library.  

The council claims that the location of the library, which is outside Stockport’s main high street, makes it ineligible for the funding. 

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“The council claims that the location of the library, which is outside Stockport’s main high street, makes it ineligible for the funding.” … not true!
Instead of doing the right thing, the council continue to invest in the failed Merseyway, rather than looking how to open up the natural river course underneath, and build on a townscape that is much more resilient and sustainable.

By Anon

Such an exciting project! It’s one of the only schemes in the North West of England to receive the full amount requested from the Future High Streets Fund and this is how people choose to engage with the opportunity? You get people complaining about a lack of investment and empty shops in the town centre but when the council comes up with a plan to bring forward significant investment and shift the town centre away from being predominantly retail based (to give the place a positive future!), people throw up a massive fuss! The issue seems to be that people can’t separate the future of the building from the service currently in the building. Can people really say that a public service located half way up a steep hill, where you often have to use a side door for entry and isn’t accessible to all is really going to encourage people to engage with library services in the longer term when compared to a centrally located facility that will house a range of services and attractions? Other councils have relocated their library services into a more central location with great success – increased footfall, more members, increased literacy rates etc. The council have been clear that building will maintain public access, it won’t be demolished or abandoned and they won’t sell the freehold. Clearly no other future administration would go against this given the stances that other parties have made, they know it’d be massive political ammunition. I’m sure council officers would be very hesitant at anything of the sort as well!

By Anonymous

The Council report is economical with the facts. The “consultation” was biased, statistically poor with less than 0.04% of the population favouring a shift of library services to the shopping precinct. The 7,000+ signature petition is x8 more and objected to the shift of library services from the purpose-built Greade II listed Central Library that can be upgraded with grants from other sources. The Council’s reputation for welfare and reuse of Historic Buildings is poor – witness the dereliction of Woodbank Hall, the Grade II* listed building.

By John Fidler

A consultation that was based on the facts, put together with cross party input? Considering the first phase only ran for 4 weeks compared to a petition that had been going for months peddling misinformation, it’s hardly a fair comparison. The grants that are currently available wouldn’t even touch the sides of the £2.5million that the council estimate is needed to complete all the necessary works. Stockport Council have done more than most to protect heritage buildings, particularly since the current administration came in. The White Lion, Winters, The Produce Hall, Tatton Cinema, the wider Underbanks project to name a few but all that is forgotten in favour of throwing mud. Considering the relentless cuts the council have faced over the last 11 years, that’s a pretty big feet. You also can’t just forget that some heritage buildings are in private ownership, maybe turning attention to putting pressure on their owners would be a better use of time.

By Anonymous

I am always amazed that folks go the trouble of defending a decision and then decide to be anonymous.
The Local Authority have made a decision the Stockport doesn’t need a Town Centre shopping area, so to facilitate a £14.4 million grant they have decided to sacrifice the Central Library,. Its actually quite strange that the Stockroom library facility is already up and running, despite a council promise that consultation was ongoing.
7000 local residents stated that they supported Central Library staying open and in the place it has been for decades.. very strangely the council decided that 83% of less than 800 people who completed the Stockroom survey gave them a mandate to do what they had already started. Shame on the council, who are in fact your local councillors and shame on correspondents such as Anonymous for believing that this decision will not mean that the site of the Central Library will not suddenly become available for redevelopment in the not too distant future.

By David Moores

The plan to move the library from its historic location is very depressing. The library was gifted to the people of Stockport by Carnegie in 1913 and is of great cultural and historic significance to our town and the Council have no need to close it. They could easily set up an additional library facility within the proposed Stockroom for a fraction of the cost of moving, storing and preserving all the library stock, archive and local history materials from our beautiful Central library. The library has Grade II listed status because of its history and cultural significance as a library so the Council is likely to face a legal challenge to changing its use. 7000+ people of Stockport have objected to the closure of the library. How can the Council ignore their wishes in this way? The plan to close the historic library is also contrary to the Government’s recommendations for the regeneration of town centres and may affect the grant funding the Council actually receives. The battle to save the library is not over yet.

By Anonymous

Very sad indeed and being determinedly pushed through in spite of the 7000+ petition.This iconic Carnegie library very much remains fit for purpose and it is clear the council have been determined to dismiss it come what may.Looking at the state of Woodbank Hall I would not feel confident about Central library’s future.
SGSpeakman Chairman Manchester Civic Society

By Anonymous

This looks great, good thinking by the council

By YS

Wonderful walkways along a tree-lined meandering river with ducks and swans gliding majestically across the pacific waters; taking paradise and putting ugly buildings is what already happened. If you have done something wrong, stop doing that. Do something else.

By James Yates

The Council will continue to invest in what it percieves as value for public money like NCP car parks, £40 million on the half empty Redrock, Tens of millions on Grand Central offices still ongoing and again half empty, yet public services go to the dogs. As for Merseyway, well it has been falling apart slowly for years. The project would take years and years to complete and alongside the town centre 5 years revamp, will become impossible to fund.
Losing the Library building will be a forgotten issue soon enough and then like dozens of other architecturally beautiful structures will be mysterious demolished for the greater good!

By Nystagmic

Stockport council is a disgrace. why not keep our wonderful Library where it is.

By Sydney porter

I understand the historic attachment people have for libraries and the role they played in transform society during the 19th and early part of the 20th century but given I can access more information from my mobile phone than is contained in any UK library building surely they have had their day. This is not a statement on the future of the current library building in Stockport which should be retained because of its architectural merit it’s a statement on the need for public libraries in general.

By Anonymous

Central library would make a great wetherspoons

By Rik

Retain the Carnegie Library AND have a small library section at the Stockroom. This saves the grand old library at very little cost and Merseyway can be enhanced with the promised money.

By Stephen Burke

Lot of inaccessibility nonsense from the proponents of closing the Central Library. The new Interchange bus station with its bridge and elevator links to Wellington Rd., and rail station are both closer to the existing Central Library than to rotting Merseyway. The rooftop car parks for Adlington Walk can also be used for the Central Library – a six minute flat walk along St Petersgate. New housing to the east, south and west of the Central Library and countless bus stops outside make it entirely more accessible than the Stockroom.

By John Fidler

Having worked for SMBC works division for 38 years and recently retired, I can say from experience that central library is a white elephant and a constant drain on dwindling resources which have been eroded by successive tory government in the form of cuts in funding for local authorities. How many of the 7000 people who have signed the petition have actually visited Central Library in the last few years, my guess is not many The repairs to the main central dome over the library would cost millions alone.

By Laurence Martlew

Does this mean they will also move the town hall from up the Hill to be more accessible?

By Lesley Keen

Lesley Keen: The town hall doesn’t include any public facing services, it’s the home of key council departments, including democratic services. There are a number of public facing services in Fred Perry House but part of the Stockroom consultation is looking at whether those services could be relocated into Stockroom or maybe the One Stockport Hub unit.

By Anonymous

The proposed ‘new premises’ are an eyesore.
The old building, left in trust as a library for the people of Stockport should remain along with it’s book stock and substantial archive.

By Sndtew Cox