Hereford Library -
UPDATE MAY 2018
Much effort by various groups continues to find a new use or refurbishment plan for 31 Broad Street.
It is sad that progress is further delayed by potential funding models and the need for a fully sustainable solution without Local Authority support.
In December 2015 the Cabinet invited Hereford Library User Group (HLUG) to confirm by the end of February whether or not they wished to work with the Council to explore options for the future of the library service.
HLUG has now submitted its response to the Cabinet and awaits its reaction.
The submission sets out the options they have studied and describes in detail how the present Broad Street building could be modified to provide a facility that would be much more than a library.
It would include space for the museum and art exhibitions, community and care services, tourism, meeting rooms, a café and be a cultural and community hub and ‘gateway’ for the county.
HLUG has provisionally called it The Rankin Centre to recognise Sir James Rankin who was the main benefactor of the original building in 1875.
The frontage of the building is listed but the proposal is to demolish all the rear area and install a new structure doubling the present floor area and providing modern facilities. The existing building which has been closed for the removal of asbestos needs to be reopened as soon as possible while an independent community led team works up the proposals, produces a business plan and raises the necessary funding to meet the construction costs provisionally estimated at £7million.
HLUG has consulted with and received support from many organisations the museum, new university, the cathedral, the Woolhope Club etc. that would be affected by these changes. At a public meeting the scheme obtained enthusiastic and near unanimous approval.
There are a number of restraints that can affect the viability of the proposals such as finding suitable members of the project team, the possible need for a temporary library during construction, the success of fund raising from such bodies as HLF and the Arts Council and the Council’s contribution towards future revenue required to run the Centre.
This is an opportunity to give the city and county a long overdue update of the Broad Street building and provide a new and nationally unique centre of huge benefit to Herefordshire.