Library deals booked with developers

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THREE rundown Sheffield libraries are set to be replaced – at no cost to the council.

Deals are being lined up with developers so that new facilities can be provided at Broomhill, Woodseats and Woodhouse.

The existing libraries are described as “not fit for purpose” and there is no prospect of funds from the council or the Government to upgrade them.

Councillors are expected next week to approve the continuation of negotiations with developers.

At Broomhill, a scheme has been drawn up to relocate the library from Taptonville Road to an office block, Willis House, in Peel Street, creating a ‘community hub’ at the same time, with the potential for community events to spill on to the street.

Negotiations are being held with the landlord of Willis House with a view to exchanging council-owned assets, including the existing Broomhill library and the Spooner Road depot, for a long lease on the ground floor of the property. It is hoped that the new development will open in 2014.

The two other new community libraries are due to open next year.

At Woodseats, it is proposed to redevelop the current library site in Chesterfield Road, with shops on the ground floor and the library on the first floor. A deal is being prepared with PH Land Developments.

At Woodhouse, a project is being pulled together to use the sites of the existing library and Tannery Lodge in Stradbroke Road to create a new library, community facilities and homes for sale. The preferred developer is Jaguar Estates.

In all three instances, the council says commercial negotiations are “at an early stage”, and there is a warning that changes in the property market could affect the viability of the proposals.

The libraries need “significant investment”, and a report to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday says the buildings can be expected to deteriorate further without funding for repairs, with the threat of potential closure.