Councillors vote to consult before moving Halifax library

Protesters gather outside the Town Hall, Halifax to object to the new library.
Protesters gather outside the Town Hall, Halifax to object to the new library.

THE public will be consulted before councillors approve proposals to build a new library beside Halifax Piece Hall.

And until the public has had its say on the scheme, other aspects of a grand plan for the town centre will be put on hold.

The decision to go for public consulation was taken at a Calderdale Council meeting last night, when more than 50 protestors gathered outside to urge councillors not to rubberstamp the scheme.

It was only on October 31 that Calderdale Council’s Lib-Lab coalition announced the town centre proposals.

These include the demolition of the council’s administrative offices at Northgate House, renting an information office in the new Broad Street development and the sale of the Heath Training Centre in Free School Lane.

The council also wants to pull down the central library - because that would cost between £4 million and £6 million to refurbish. The aim is clear both buildings to make way for retail development, with a Primark store slated as the main tenant.

By Spring 2012, the council had planned to have completed a study for a new library and archive on the bottom side of the Piece Hall - artist’s impressions of a glass fronted building have been widely publicised already.

This process will now be subject to a full public consultation, asking library users and the general public what they think of the scheme.

The plan to move the library was expected to increase the number of visitors to the Piece Hall and bolster a multi-million pound lottery bid to restore the historic building.

The town centre ‘grand plan’ also involves selling Heath Training Centre, in Free School Lane, for retail use - or even a petrol station.

During the past two or three years, council leaders have given repeated assurances that the central library was safe and would not be moved elsewhere.

And last week, the council’s safer and stronger communities scrutiny panel recommended that before any decision was taken on relocating the building, detailed consultation should be undertaken.

It was a view echoed by Halifax Civic Trust, the “Don’t Bulldoze Our Library” campaign and Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan, who raised the issue in the House of Commons this week.

According to the council’s Liberal Democrat leader Janet Battye, the proposals contained in the grand plan were essential.

She said: “If we are to ensure Halifax continues to thrive as a place where people want to shop and which competes with larger towns and cities in the area, then it is essential we attract high profile and well-known retailers.”