Delays have hit plans to create a new super £20m library Nuneaton town centre – including finding a new home for Wilkos.
There are plans for the new facility to be housed by where the the former Post Office and Powell House buildings stand in Vicarage Street and Church Street.
This includes the building where Wilkos is located.
But, according to a Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) report, the coronavirus crisis has thrown a stumbling block into finding a new home for Wilkos, which has stated it wants to stay in the town centre.
This is also the same for the Royal Mail deilvery office.
“There is slow progress in gaining vacant possession of the acquired properties – Royal Mail and Wilkos,” the LEP report states. “Both occupiers have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and this has limited the opportunity for negotiations to continue.”
According to the LEP report, there are plans to try and miitigate this – including bringing forward plans to buy more land nearby to help with transport issues.
It also adds: “Other mitigating actions include accelerating some site demolition ahead of original or reviewing historic spend which could be claimed.”
What the county council has said
CoventryLive contacted Warwickshire County Council, which is spearheading the new library plans as part of the ongoing Transforming Nuneaton project, to find out more about the delays.
We also asked about what the demolition plans were.
A statement was provided by Shire Hall and it in it says that they are having ‘active discussions’ to try and find new homes for Wilkos and Royal Mail.
“The on-going work of the Transforming Nuneaton programme to progress plans for the Vicarage Street development site are progressing despite some slight delays in gaining vacant possession of the buildings; the council is having active discussions with the tenants of the properties to reach acceptable solutions for them,” the statement says.
“The plans for the site will also involve demolition work to enable the delivery of new development on the identified sites; any demolition work will take place once the required approvals have been gained. Alongside this the programme is at the feasibility and design stage for upgrades to the ring road, it is thought that land acquisition may be required to achieve the desired goals of improving air quality and relieving localised pinch points.
“This is currently being looked at in more detail and, if required, work to assemble the land will progress accordingly. The needs of local businesses will also be a priority as we look to retain them within the area as part of the development, as much as possible. These discussions are currently ongoing and final decisions are yet to be made.”
What are the library plans?
The proposal is to deliver a new library, business centre and cafe building in Nuneaton town centre to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the town.
The cafe, library and the business centre entrance will be on the ground level whilst the office accommodation will occupy the upper three floors.
At mezzanine/first floor level, library staff will overlook the main double-height library space, whilst above this a roof terrace will provide amenity space to office users.
A large circular roof light will make sure daylight streams into the heart of the building.
The new library will have the same floor space as the existing Nuneaton library as well as accommodating pods for registration services meeting rooms and informal event space.
The town’s first changing places facilities – a fully accessible changing/toilet facility for adults with disabilities – will also be included in the build.
The plans also mean that the main library, which has served the town for more than 50 years and was designed by famed designer Sir Frederick Gibberd, who was also behind Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, will go.
It has been suggested that the new building will create up to 200 jobs in the business centre and café over and above existing library jobs.
It hoped that the creation of the ‘public sector building’ will kick-start the regeneration of the area, which is also seeing retirement apartments being built on the former council car park.
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