Stockport Central Library
The library opened in 1914 c.Gerald England (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Uncertainty mounts over future of Stockport library

Dan Whelan

Councillors are calling for clarity on the future of the grade two-listed building as plans are drawn up to create a community hub in the town centre that could see the library services relocated. 

Stockport Council’s proposals for One Stockport Hub, a temporary community centre featuring a library within the former Argos unit on Mersey Square, have cast doubt over the future of the historic Stockport Central Library on Wellington Road. 

The library, described by the council as an “architectural gem”, was built in 1913 but has been closed since the start of the pandemic and it is not known whether or not it will reopen. 

“The work needed to make the building safe and Covid-secure is costly, requiring a range of physical adaptations and a much greater number of staff to manage the library,” the council said in a report. 

The creation of One Stockport Hub and the scaling back of the library’s operations could save the council £70,000 a year, the report noted. 

While there is no official proposal to permanently close Stockport Central Library, the council said it plans to conduct a review into potential future uses of the site “immediately”.

Stockroom1

Stockport is waiting for a £14m grant for the StockRoom project

At a cabinet meeting last week, the council confirmed that any proposal to permanently relocate the library services would be subject to stakeholder consultation, because the public has previously raised concerns over perceived lack of engagement. 

Stockport Council has medium-term plans to create StockRoom, a social, community and cultural hub, within the former M&S and BHS stores in the town centre.

StockRoom would consolidate several public services – including a library – under the plans. and the council is awaiting Government sign-off on a £14m bid to the Future High Streets Fund to help it progress the project. If the bid is approved, the facility would open in 2023. 

The One Stockport Hub, set to open in February, would act as a “precursor” to StockRoom, the council said. 

As well as library services, the hub would provide access to computers, advice and education services, and information on the local history of Stockport. 

One Stockport Hub “represents an opportunity to bring together a number of services into a central location in an area with high footfall, that is close to transport hubs and parking”, the council added. 

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Difficult to know what they could do with the existing library given that its listed and a reason for the listing includes that the interior retains a lot of original library features. Perhaps relocate the existing interior into a more accessible and covid secure new building then build a new residential block behind the existing façade.

By Gethin

Another nail in Stockport’s coffin. Again short-sighted by the council. Reeks of desperation and a waste of a lovely building and our heritage. Surely we can do better!

By Graham Jones

It is disgraceful that this group of local politicians is trying to get rid of the existing beautiful central library. Probably the same ones that are responsible for building the hideous redrock centre.

By D W

So many wonderful buildings have been destroyed over the years. Stockport Fire Station, The Buck and Dog and Marple Hall to name but three. The greatest mistake was always to ignore the gift of a famous river at the heart of our town. Would New York, Paris,London or Bath be so ashamed of its rivers as to consign them to the status of sewers? What is the matter with our planners? Wake up and do something amazing.

By Andrew R. Turner

To save just £70’000 per year? This is an iconic and unique building that’s been a heart of Stockport, you just want to forget about it and move in to the middle of the overcrowded merseyway? Ridiculous! It wouldn’t take that much work to coronify the existing library. The new “idea” is just as stupid as redrock was. You’re trying to over modernise a town that just won’t appreciate it, and doing away with a beautiful building just because you’re afraid of a small challenge and wish to save a mere £70k.
I’m starting to feel ashamed of being English, British. Government doing away with everything that made us what we are.

By Daniel Saxton

Same in St Helens, closed Central Library – The Gamble building as it is need of repair an no public access, council workers still in there. Fantastic archive still at library but library itself located to The World of Glass – an attraction that the council has been propping up by way of grant for years to the tune of over £1m, whilst letting The Gamble fall into disrepair. Criminal that due to lack of proper maintenance the building now needs repairs of about £750K and that the building isn’t listed.

By Dori

No comprehensive options appraisal has been carried out involving all aspects of this case. The Council currently has no plan for the abandoned Central Library; no plans for its important archives; no firm evidence that a move to a retail-abandoned former shopping precinct will increase library usage; no proof that improvements could not be made to the existing facilities.

By John Fidler