Sheffield Town Hall is in the frame as the site for a new city centre library if proposals to create a luxury hotel come to fruition.
The council is looking at the option of adapting part of its Grade I-listed headquarters – most likely the ground floor but possibly more of the premises – to accommodate the Central Library facilities.
The idea is being examined under proposals to create Sheffield’s first five-star hotel at the existing Central Library and Graves Gallery site on Surrey Street, through a partnership with the authority’s Chinese development partner Sichuan Guodong Group.
A completely new library building has not been ruled out. However, the council has committed to keeping a library service ‘in the heart of the city centre’ – defined as within ‘around half a mile’ of the Surrey Street site.
It considers the Town Hall to be one of the most appropriate spots, if the facility was to move into existing premises, given the amount of empty space available there.
Other civic buildings across the country have been used in a similar way – in 2013 a £4.2 million museum opened at Barnsley Town Hall, incorporating the local archives.
This week the council published responses to scores of questions asked at public meetings held in December and January to discuss the hotel.
In the answers, it said: “If a move does take place, everything will be done to synchronise the transfer from the existing building to a new location. If this cannot be done, an interim solution will be found to ensure continuity of service within the city centre.”
It is understood that if the Town Hall option went ahead the move would be permanent rather than a temporary measure – as otherwise the authority would be forced to spend a large amount of money on renovating rooms that would only be used for a relatively short period of time.
The present library building, itself Grade II-listed, is in need of costly repairs running to around £30 million.
Coun Jack Scott, the council’s cabinet member for community services, said: “We’ve committed that any new library will be within the very heart of the city centre, but we are at the early stage of looking at options and haven’t ruled any specific building in or out at the moment.”