Clash of opinions over plans for new library

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A COUNCIL’S plans to build a modern building to house a library and archive have divided opinion among those who have responded to a consultation process.

Calderdale Council yesterday put up for sale the existing Central Library and Northgate House in Halifax ahead of plans to build a new library next to the Grade I listed Piece Hall.

Hundreds fought a campaign to save the existing library from demolition and critics are now focusing their attention on the new library scheme.

Comments registered online suggest the town is divided on the new plans.

While some have called the plans “fantastic” and “modern”, others have questioned whether the new library will be an improvement on the old one.

Christopher Horsman, of Rochdale Road in Halifax, is among the critics.

He said: “The proposed structure is incongruous with its surroundings and will overbear and smother adjacent listed structures.

“The proposed monolith would be hugely out of scale with its surroundings and being made of yellow brick, glass and metal would fail to match surrounding buildings within the town centre conservation area.”

Other residents have responded positively.

Michael Lynch, of Burley Street in Elland, said: “The plans look fantastic. It will be a fantastic building to have in our little town – pity the rest of town doesn’t look as good.”

Others have raised concerns about wheelchair access.

Beverley Smith, of Balfour Street in Bradford, said she was concerned about ground floor access for wheelchairs and wheelchair access within the building.

And Helen Pedley, of Cragg Vale, Hebden Bridge, said the “cheap and nasty materials” chosen for the building would create a “horrendous look”.

She said the new library would be “completely alien to its context”, adding: “I do not understand why the existing library and archive, which function well and are in better repair than at least four schools I know of in the Upper Calder Valley, are to be re-housed in new buildings.”

The local authority says the new library building will be a “fresh, modern community venue that will bring the very best of our local heritage together with the latest innovations”.

Last month a council spokesman said: “The library will be a contemporary building that will fuse the styles, tones and colours of our historic Piece Hall, Square Chapel and the former Industrial Museum buildings together with a modern, fit-for-purpose venue.

“The new building will envelope the Grade II* Listed Square Church Spire and the remaining standing archaeology of Square Church. It will preserve and bring new energy to the derelict site. In addition it will incorporate the remains of the church, such as the rose window, into the design of the building, creating a combination of historic and contemporary architecture.

“The building will have four floors. Each level has been carefully planned using people’s feedback, and to accommodate the range of services that will be delivered – from local studies on the lower ground, adjacent to West Yorkshire Archives, through to the ground level with its welcoming reception area and the children’s library.”

A decision on the library plans is expected later this year.