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Author Topic: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway  (Read 2061 times)

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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2021, 12:22:01 PM »
Update: this week it was confirmed that this exciting scheme is to go ahead, despite some noisy opposition from one of our major political parties.   See https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/stockport-issues-final-sign-off-for-14-5m-stockroom/

Great news for Stockport, in two respects: modernising and extending the library facilities, and at the same time making a major contribution to the revival of the town centre through the redevelopment of the grim and tatty Merseyway precinct.


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2021, 05:05:06 PM »
As corium points out, there are two linked but separate issues here:

1)  Providing a new and enhanced library and learning centre fit for the 21st century, while at the same time doing something with the grim and depressing Merseyway.
2)  Adapting the current library building for other uses, if the new library project goes ahead.

When you look at the outline of the scheme, and take into account the £14.5 million government grant that has been secured for it, it looks like a no-brainer.  So it's quite weird that one of the major political parties in Stockport is campaigning against it...  ::)

Anyway, we can all make up out own minds and respond to the council's consultation here:  https://consultation.stockport.gov.uk/policy-performance-and-reform/central-library-proposal/

But don't hang about - the consultation period finishes this Monday 18th October. 


  • Guest
Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2021, 09:55:03 AM »
Personally I feel two separate issues or getting artificially combined when they shouldn't be.

Yes there should be a library in the centre of Stockport & for me Merseyway or similar is going to increase the potential usage and help maintain an active town centre. Yes it might not end up being a traditional library but that is a separate issue. it's the function not the building that is key here.

Separate is what to do with a historic building close to, but not quite in the town centre that probably needs a significant injection of repair money and that's how we should be approaching the current facilities & is a completely separate debate.


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2021, 05:58:50 PM »
I have no inside knowledge of the council's thinking on this - I can only speculate like everyone else.  However, for what it's worth I suspect that underlying the issues mentioned in the FAQs page, there are probably two main motivations for this plan:

1.   Cost.  The library building is over 100 years old.  As as others have pointed out, it is architecturally of some merit, (much more so than the grim Merseyway), but Edwardian buildings cost a small fortune to heat, light and maintain, and that gets even worse as they continue to age.  Like practically every other local authority, Stockport is struggling to balance the books, being caught in a pincer movement between rising costs (especially social care costs, which have to be met) and declining funding from central government.   

2.    Merseyway, which, as we all know, has in recent years become even more grim and depressing than it always was, now that so many of its shops and stores have given up the fight for survival.   Something has be done about it, and this plan, with the added attraction of £14.5 million of external funding, probably looked like the least worst way to kill two birds with one stone. 


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2021, 11:32:37 AM »
Whilst I know there was an additional document, it was in a docx download via a smart phone which I won't be doing.

Got to agree about the cack architecture, if they wanted to use all the excessive buzz words to attract the youth, they could have just added a floor onto the redrock when it was built.

I'm afraid I'm not convinced by Stockport saying it won't be sold off etc, they'll probably turn it into some hipster coffee shop so you can have one before or after a big M over the road.


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2021, 11:02:04 AM »
Sadly, many towns and cities have ruined their libraries in the name of a spurious modernity. Good architecture gives way to rubbish; interiors are ruined; monstrosities are created which future generations will wonder how this vandalism came about.

I just hope the same doesn't happen in Stockport.



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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2021, 10:41:00 AM »
For ease, here's a copy and paste of the council's FAQs:

Proposal to move Central Library services to Stockroom.
Consultation from 23rd August to 15th October 2021

1.   What is this all about?
The Council are consulting with people to understand the level of support and impact on them if library services currently provided in Central Library relocated into the new Stockroom development in Merseyway. Stockroom would offer an enhanced, 21st Century library in the heart of the town centre.
All the feedback will be used to inform any decisions made on this proposal.
The consultation is running between the 23rd August and the 15th October 2021 and it is likely that a decision will be made by the Council later this year.
We are asking people to complete a short questionnaire to understand people’s views on the proposed move

2.   What is Central Library?
Central Library was opened in 1913 and has operated as the Town Centre library since then. It was built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Its original design incorporated lecture halls, a reference room and a ladies reading room. It now offers a range of services including, but are not limited to; book loans; computer and Wi-Fi access; heritage and archive material access; activities and events; council advice and support services.

3.   What is Stockroom?
Stockroom is the working title for a project to create a new 21st century, universal learning and discovery space at the heart of Merseyway. In 2019, the Government launched the Future High Streets Fund (FSHF) with the aim of renewing and reshaping high streets up and down the country.
Stockport has received £14.5m from the FHSF to repurpose a large area of vacant retail space in the Merseyway Shopping Centre around Adlington Walk. As town centres across the UK struggle to recover from the decline in traditional retailing and the impact of Covid-19, Stockport is pioneering an innovative plan to encourage footfall and vibrancy in the town centre.
Located on Adlington Walk and redeveloping 8 vacant retail units, Stockroom will create a fantastic new arrival point for the town centre, clustered around brand new toilets and customer facilities. Stockroom will be a place to celebrate the rich culture, creativity and diversity of Stockport, a place where the past, present and future come together. Stockroom will be a place to spend time exploring with friends and family, children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents.

4.   What do you mean by a “21st century library offer” ?
Over recent years, in the context of declining visitor numbers to libraries nationally, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and other national bodies have set out their vision for modern 21st Century library services. In particular the government published in 2016, ‘Libraries Deliver – an ambition for public library services’. This set out a vision for libraries that is summed up by a quote from Malorie Blackman, the Children’s Laureate 2013 to 2015.
“What do libraries do for us? Well, they introduce many into the world of literacy and learning and help to make it a lifelong habit; they equalise; they teach empathy and help us to learn about each other; they preserve our cultural heritage; they protect our right to know and to learn; they build communities; they strengthen and advance us as a nation; they empower us as individuals.”
There are plenty of examples up and down the country, of where libraries have been re-imagined and cultural and learning spaces have been located in the heart of the High Street, bringing a range of attractions and services together in a modern and welcoming environment. Where this has happened, more people have visited and benefitted from those spaces and the national trend of decline in library usage has been reversed.

5.   Why are you proposing this?
The way people use libraries and their expectations of public services are changing, we need to respond to this and at the same time, help rejuvenate the High Street. A 21st Century library, with all the benefits and visitors it could bring, would be a real boost to the shops and businesses already in the town, and help to make our High Street more attractive to shops and business in the future who may want to set up in Stockport.
Nationally library visitor numbers have been declining over the past decade. Stockport Central library has seen visitor numbers fall by almost half (42%) from April 2012 to March 2020. In addition, loans have fallen 35% among 10 to 14-year-olds between April 2017 and March 2020, while loans have fallen 61% among 15 to 19-year-olds between April 2017 and March 2020.
The Council believe Stockroom will be able to attract more people to use the fantastic services our libraries provide. Where other local authorities have re-imagined their library services for the 21st Century there has been a substantial uptake in the use of those services.

6.   Why can’t all of this be provided from the Central Library building?
The layout of the building was suitable for how people used libraries through much of the 20th Century. However, the way the building is laid out and the investment needed make it a challenge to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library service, fit for the 21st Century, from the building. 
The Heritage and Archive library is also only on a provisional accreditation and Place of Deposit status as the Archive Service Accreditation assessment identified risks in current storage that could damage the local heritage collections. Stockroom will provide a brand new storage facility for our heritage archives, one that is kitted-out with everything needed to retain our accreditation, as well as improving public access to the collections.
The rules governing how the Future High Streets Fund money can be spent mean spending it on refurbishing Central Library is not possible. The money must be spent on supporting the High Street and repurposing vacant retail space.
It is important to note that this is a government award which has been given to Stockport Council and this investment will not mean less Council investment in any of our community library buildings across the borough.
Local Authorities across the country are still coming to terms with the financial impact of the pandemic and Stockport is not alone in facing financial pressures that have brought on by the pandemic. Therefore, it is not possible for the Council to fund a major redevelopment of the Central Library building, and at present there are no external funding streams available for the level of capital investment the building requires.

7.   What will happen to the Central Library building if the Council decide to move the library service?
Should the decision be made to relocate the library service from the Central Library building, the Council will explore potential future uses for this much loved and important part of the town’s heritage.
The Council has already the following comments in respect of the building:
  • it will not demolish or abandon the building
  • it will not sell the freehold to it so that the long term of control of the building remains with the Council for the residents of Stockport
  • it will not allow the building to be developed for residential use as this would mean the public losing access to this heritage asset
  • any potential use will ensure that public access can be retained to the building
If the decision is made to relocate the library service to Stockroom, it is anticipated that the earliest date that the library would relocate is in the Summer of 2023. The service will be retained in the building until this date.
Given that it may be two years before any potential new use could even begin to fit out the building, it is very early stages in considering what that use might be. However the initial work that the Council has undertaken and will continue to work on between now and the end of the year has highlighted a number of potential uses based on experience of what other buildings of this nature have been used as elsewhere and what there might be demand for. Further details of what these uses could be are included within the questionnaire.

8.   Why can’t you just bring back more shops back to Merseyway?
Stockport, like many towns and cities across the country, has lost major household names such as Debenhams, Top Shop, Thorntons, and Mothercare. These iconic names will not return to the High Street. This has left a large number of vacant retail units, many with multiple floors. Empty shops don’t contribute to making the High Street a place we all want to go and spend time in, so the challenge is to find new ways of using those spaces for something else.
The recent news about the redevelopment of the former M&S and BHS stores will help make our High Street more attractive for those retailers who are still looking to expand. Big High Street names are responsible to their shareholders and are private businesses, the council can’t force them to open in Stockport but we can help to create the right conditions for business that are here to thrive and attract new shops and businesses to the town.
Shops like to open where there is animation, vibrancy and people! We strongly believe this proposal will help bring people back into Stockport Town Centre, support the businesses that are still here and provide a great incentive for new businesses to come to Stockport.

9.   Why have you called it Stockroom? 
‘Stockroom’ is just a working title for the project, (we had to call it something!). Once everyone has a clearer idea of what Stockroom will include, we will be in a better position to name the building. This could involve engaging with people to decide the actual name of Stockroom in early 2022 when the plans for Stockroom have progressed further.

10   What about One Stockport Hub?
One Stockport Hub (OSH) was opened to provide a town centre library offer, albeit in a reduced form, whilst the pandemic prevented the opening of Central Library. Library services moved back to Central Library on 19th July 2021. One Stockport Hub continues to operate but It is envisaged that once Stockroom opens by Summer 2023, it will include everything that is offered at One Stockport Hub and the unit it is currently occupied by OSH on Mersey Square would return to a commercial use.

Mark Whittaker
The Marple Website


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2021, 10:24:50 AM »
GM, if you click on the final link in my post and scroll down, you'll find an FAQs link which may answer some of your questions. 


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Re: SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2021, 02:33:13 AM »
So what's to become of the original library asset, physically and financially?.

Whilst I seem to remember the council buying large portions of the shopping centre, swapping a nice library for what I assume is the concrete 1970s shell of wh smiths?.


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SMBC consultation on new library in Merseyway
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2021, 06:21:59 PM »
Stockport Council has launched a consultation on the planned relocation of the Central Library from its current site in Wellington Road South, to a new location in Merseyway, which I believe is planned to occupy the former M&S site and neighbouring premises.  Its working title is 'Stockroom', and it is to be funded from a grant of £14.5 million from the government's Future High Streets fund.  Here is some information about it:   https://www.aewarchitects.com/projects/stockroom-stockport/.  And here is some more:  https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/2081785-14.5m-stockroom-proposal-aimed-at-reinvigorating-stockport-town-centre.

The council is currently consulting on this exciting scheme, and you can respond to the consultation here:  https://consultation.stockport.gov.uk/policy-performance-and-reform/central-library-proposal/