“Who’ll clean all those windows?” (your headlined question, 12 November) does not say much for the level of debate on plans for Halifax central library.
The proposed new library and archives building deserves support from everyone who wants our town to flourish.
This is bold and exciting: high quality architecture to complement the built environment that it will literally reflect.
Aesthetic sense will be made of the rather incongruous Victorian gothic spire on the vacant site between Square Chapel arts centre – a masterpiece of Georgian simplicity – and the down-to-earth grandeur of the Industrial Museum. The museum could reopen. Square Chapel has its own modernist extension planned.
The Piece Hall, our priceless architectural jewel, looks forward to restoration as a space for vibrant activity. The new library, with access through the Piece Hall, will complete a group of buildings that form both a cultural hub and a transformed gateway to the town for people arriving via the train station or along the bottom road.
And more activity at the lower end of town will be good reason to develop bus links to join up the different zones.
I have lived in Halifax all my life. I love the place. But Halifax is a big town that too easily endangers its development through small-town thinking.
It is established that, for whatever reason, whoever’s fault, Northgate House and the present library building will become unfit for purpose without very major spending. Personally I would like to see the present library building retained as part of any future development of Northgate. But we all have to move on. Yes, a petition says “keep the library where it is”. That’s democracy; but a petition is, by definition, only one side of the democratic argument. We must plan beyond the recession. Ever since the Woolshops development, locals have moaned about a lack of national big stores. They want something like Primark!
Now there’s the offer of commercial development that will finance a new library and deal with the Northgate House problem.
Our council would surely face even stronger criticism if it failed to grasp this opportunity of a plan that offers both value for money for council tax payers, and a real vision for our town.
Oh, and on the matter of who will clean the windows, let’s wake up. In the 21st Century we have smart materials that include self-cleaning glass.
J Stephen Waring