‘There’s more to a new library than bricks and mortar’

DEVELOPERS may have underestimated the true cost and complexities involved in building a new library and archive in Halifax, according to the town’s civic trust chairman, John Hargreaves.

“I would certainly hope the council will rigorously examine the details and implications of whatever is being proposed,” he said.

Dr Hargreaves was commenting on the offer by the Gregory Group to replace the existing library with new facilities at nearby Broad Street.

The developer has also put in a bid to buy Calderdale Council’s civic office block, Northgate House, and build in its place a Primark clothes store and some smaller shops.

“There must be serious doubts about whether the archive with all its specialist facilities, the library and meeting rooms can really be reconstructed as an add-on to the Broad Street development.

“The logistics involved in moving and conserving all those documents will make it very costly.”

Dr Hargreaves, who has long been involved with the Halifax Antiquarian Society, said that the archive was designed as an integral part of the library and to the most exacting standards.

“Setting it up at Northgate only 30 years ago was a visionary move and people must realise that much of what it contains is hidden from view.”

Two years ago, Dr Hargreaves was involved in the campaign to save the library from demolition which collected a 16,000-name petition. Latest figures show 1,000 people use the library and archive every day for reading, studying and research and the council’s own consultation process showed 95 per cent wanted to keep it in its present location.

“I hope the council will take note of the widely-based opposition which has already been expressed and honour the many assurances they have given to it staying put,” he said.

The civic trust is expected to discuss the issue at its next meeting.

In the meantime, the council is sticking to its original statement that it welcomes the developer’s expression of interest in investing further in Halifax town centre and that it wants to ensure others have the opportunity to present their ideas and proposals.

In a street poll, shoppers in Halifax told the Courier last week they would welcome plans for a Primark store.

At the moment, bargain hunters have to travel to Huddersfield or Bradford to visit the cut-price clothes retailer.