COUNCIL leaders have defended plans for a new Halifax library and redeveloping Northgate, saying it will create space for shops and improve the town.
But sceptics want to see more details and are worried that developers are calling the tune.
MP Linda Riordan, who recently urged the council to “come clean” on its proposals, said: “They now have a range of drawings and design ideas and public opinion is bound to be mixed.
“Many still want the library and archives to stay where they are and I am looking forward to public debate to see if Calderdale Council can sell this idea.”
Mrs Riordan said council leaders had to be ready with detailed answers to many questions if they expected to take people with them on the journey towards a new-look town centre.
The plan is to build a library and archive block beside the Piece Hall, to sell the site of Northgate House and the current library for retail use and sell the former Heath Grammar School, probably for housing.
The council insists the new library and archive would still be within walking distance of the bus and railway stations and could be served by a taxi bus.
Council leader Janet Battye said: “These major investments are the latest step in creating a vibrant town centre.
“We know investors are seeking to come into Halifax and that local people want better shops and leisure facilities. Bringing bigger and better shops to Halifax is long overdue and will provide a fantastic boost.”
Economy and environment spokesman Barry Collins said the new library and archive would support the redevelopment of the Piece Hall, creating a vibrant cultural quarter incorporating the Orange Box youth centre and Square Chapel.
“While councils across the land are struggling to keep their libraries and archives open, Calderdale is about to embark on an exciting development which will see a completely new and purpose-built library and archive.
“It is more cost-effective to dispose of the present site and build a new facility. To refurbish Northgate House would cost up to £15 million and to refurbish Central Library and archive would cost up to £6 million.”
The cabinet’s recommendations will be discussed at the next council meeting on Wednesday, December 7.