Plans for the controversial new Central Library in Halifax were approved by councillors in a tight vote with harsh words about the proposed building.
Councillors made their decision at a meeting of Calderdale Council’s planning committee at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday.
The vote was a close run thing with four members of the seven-man committee in favour and three against the plans.
Chair Daniel Sutherland (Lab, Mixenden and Illingworth) said: “This will be sited on land that is currently scrub land and is really an embarrassment to our town.
“It’s a shame that one of the key centres of our town is currently such a mess.
“Our officers have worked hard on this and I think it’s a great project and asset to the town.”
Councillor Martin Peel (Con, Sowerby Bridge) put forward a motion to refuse the plans on the grounds that they would deface the iconic Piece Hall by creating a fourth entrance into the building next to the library.
“In the Piece Hall we have a building that is a gem of this country,” he said.
“We have in front of us an application to desecrate it by knocking part of its wall down. This library is a slug on the flower of Calderdale as far as I’m concerned.
“It doesn’t respect or enhance the existing buildings. Just because it’s convenient space doesn’t mean we should accept it.
“Think of our heritage.”
Councillor Peel’s motion was supported by Coun Chris Pillai (Con, Rastrick) and Coun John Hardy (Con, Skircoat) but they were defeated in the final vote.
Councillor David Hardy (Lib Dem, Elland) raised concerns over the choice of handmade bricks for the building.
“We are a council in years of austerity having to make cuts in all departments and we are going down the road of using handmade bricks,” he said.
“A brick’s a brick.”
Planning officers said that the bricks would age better than natural stone and would avoid problems of wear in the future.
Coun Hardy also raised concerns about the use of a gas boiler although officers said the building would be rated ‘excellent’ for energy efficiency which shoud reduce costs.
The building, costing around £6 million, is expected to be completed in 2016.