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People can have their say on town's library proposals during summer engagement programme

Posted on Thursday 18th March 2021
Library visual 1

How Burton library could look if the Market Hall move goes ahead

Burton residents will be able to have their say on outline proposals to move and improve the town’s library at a series of public engagement events this summer before a final decision is made next year.

The library proposal is one of seven connected projects that aim to revitalise the town centre economy, bringing more footfall and businesses into the town centre. They make up the Burton Town Investment Plan, which was awarded £22.8million by the Government’s Towns Fund in the spring Budget.

It is a once in a generation opportunity to transform Burton’s library service using ringfenced central Government funding, rather than money generated by local taxpayers. By moving to the historic Market Hall, it would also see major investment in preserving what is one of the town’s finest heritage buildings and ensure it stays in public use for future generations.

This summer a comprehensive public engagement programme will take place where people will be able to have their say and help shape future services. Details of this programme will be drawn up in the coming weeks and will need to reflect Covid-19 restrictions at that time. The library proposal is still under discussion and will be subject to a full business case being agreed by government. A final decision will not be made until March 2022.

Burton Library is one of Staffordshire’s busiest libraries and its relocation will allow the addition of state-of-the-art facilities that are expected would see increased visitor numbers and support the regeneration the Market Place area outside. The market hall is closer to the town centre, college and bus services and has more than 40 parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the building.

In addition to the library, the building would house a range of community services, including enterprise space for small businesses, exhibition and flexible performance space, meeting rooms, and a cafe. The total project cost using the Towns Fund allocation would be £7.3million. This is due to cost of carrying out an extensive refurbishment of a heritage building to protect it in the long-term. Plans include a new roof, heating and lighting systems, extension of the balcony area to create office space and a ground floor extension to create meeting rooms.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture Victoria Wilson said:

At present, no decision has been made to relocate the library. We do have an exciting proposal on the table which could see Burton having a library to rival the quality of the new Lichfield library, where visitor numbers doubled after its relocation from its previous site but whether this will happen or not is yet to be decided.

A vital part of this process is to hold an extensive public engagement programme to ensure people have an input into how they view their current library offer and what improvements they would like to see.

In addition to discussing the new library proposals, we also want to discuss what can realistically be achieved within the existing 1970s library building, which continues to serve the town well but has far less scope for modernisation and improvements than what could be achieved through a move to the Market Hall.

We always knew that people would have a lot of questions and so we’ll be making the public engagement programme as comprehensive as possible. It is also important for us to address any misconceptions and correct the significant amount of misinformation that is circulating on social media.

We want as many people to take part as possible. We will draw up the engagement programme in the coming weeks and will adapt where necessary to reflect Covid-19 restrictions at that time.

Once we have gathered the informed opinions of local people, we will be in a position to make a decision about how and if this proposal will proceed.”

In December 2018, Lichfield Library was relocated from The Friary into the former St Mary’s church on the Market Square. During its first year of operation the relocated Lichfield Library saw a 97% increase in footfall, 85% increase in new membership and a 19% increase in stock issues.

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Contact the newsroom

These contact details are for journalists and members of the media only:

Email: pressoffice@staffordshire.gov.uk
Call: 01785 895050

If you are not a journalist or member of the media and have a general enquiry please:

Email: contactus@staffordshire.gov.uk
Call: 0300 111 8000