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”.
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.