Posted on Friday 12th March 2021
How the new library and community hub could look
A brand-new library, community and enterprise hub would drive a massive increase in footfall in Burton town centre and create an opportunity to regenerate a prime site on the waterfront, say council and business leaders in the town.
The Burton Town Deal Board has secured £22.8m of the Government’s Towns Fund money. 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.
The Towns Fund offers a once in a generation investment in the town – from central Government and at no additional cost to local taxpayers – to help the economy recover from the pandemic and respond over the long-term to people’s changing shopping habits.
The library proposal would see state-of-the-art facilities transform the Market Hall and help to preserve an important part of the town’s heritage. The building would house a range of community services, including an enterprise centre for small businesses, exhibition and flexible performance space, meeting rooms, a café and more.
Staffordshire County Council aims to emulate the success of library service transformation in other towns, including Lichfield, Stafford and Newcastle. By moving from its current site, it is projected that the new facilities would see increased visitor numbers – closer to the town centre, college and bus services.
By bringing the library and other services together under one roof, there would be substantial cost savings for local council taxpayers. Furthermore, this site would be a vital piece of wider regeneration plans and support the transformation of the Market Place area.
The move would also provide a long-term home for Burton library which is currently based in a building constructed in the 1970s that will require significant investment from council taxpayers if it is to continue in use.
If successful, the project would receive a £7.3million allocation from the national Towns Fund. There will be a public engagement event in the summer where people will be able to have their say and help shape future services.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture Victoria Wilson said:
The Towns Fund proposals offer us the opportunity to use central government funding to begin a once in a generation transformation of Burton town centre and modernise our library and community services.
The library project is one of a series of exciting proposals to breathe new life into Burton and regenerate the town centre.
Restoring a valuable heritage building in the Market Hall and giving the building a secure long-term future will help to preserve it for generations to come. The move will also bring more people to the market square outside, offering opportunities to new and existing businesses in what is currently an under-used part of the town centre.
The current library building continues to serve the town well but it will require major investment if it is to continue in long-term use and it does not have the potential to deliver the wider range of services we can offer from the Market Hall site. The building is of a 1970s design and will have to be substantially upgraded at further cost to council taxpayers.
As a county council we have a strong track record in library service transformation and modernisation and aim to emulate the success of the projects in Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford which have proved hugely popular in those communities. We want to offer the same quality of facilities to the people of Burton.
Relocating to the Market Hall, in addition to bringing in other services such as an enterprise centre, will increase visitor numbers to the library and surrounding area. It is closer to the town centre, the college and public transport routes. Doing nothing is not an option – the library service needs to modernise to reflect community needs today.
We look forward to speaking to people in the summer so that they can have their say as part of our public engagement process.”
East Staffordshire Borough Council’s deputy leader for leisure, amenities and tourism Bev Ashcroft, said:
Despite our best efforts the Market Hall service has been operating at a continued loss of £57,000 a year on average over the last five years. We have delivered many initiatives to help improve its offering. Potentially, incorporating the library offers an opportunity to reinvigorate the building by making fuller use of the space and bringing in more people, making it more sustainable.
The proposal will be fully explored during 2021/22, with a public engagement event over the summer, and I’d like to reassure Market Hall traders that if this proposal is accepted by the Borough Council, the County Council and the Towns Partnership, the existing Market Hall traders would be unaffected until 2022/23 at the absolute earliest, but more likely in 2023/24, and we will do our upmost to assist them in relocating nearby within the town centre.”
Ben Robinson MBE, chairman of the Burton Town Deal Board, added:
The Library and Enterprise Hub project is one of seven which forms part of our Town Deal proposals.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve and preserve the heritage Market Hall and provide first class community facilities in a more suitable and easily accessible location. By bringing more people in to this part of town we can attract more businesses and enhance the market square as a visitor destination.
This will also support our plans to develop the area next to the Washlands to make it more appealing for visitors including developing leisure facilities and improve connections to it from the town centre. Together they contribute to our vision for Burton as a forward-thinking town that can utilise our many assets and heritage features as part of its regeneration.”