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Flats warning over library move proposal

todayJuly 13, 2021 1

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Lynn’s historic library could be turned into flats as part of multi-million pound relocation plans, it has been claimed.

A town councillor says she has seen plans for the conversion of the Carnegie building at the corner of London Road and Millfleet.

But borough council chiefs insist they want to see the site maintained even if proposals to move the facility as part of the development of a new multi-user hub proceed.

King's Lynn library
King’s Lynn library

The current library has been serving readers for more than a century.

But its future has been in question since it was confirmed early last year that proposals to develop a hub facility in the former Argos building in the Vancouver Quarter were being considered.

Norfolk County Council, the authority responsible for library provision, says the plans are “still at an early stage” and will be consulted upon when details are finalised.

But, speaking during a West Norfolk Council meeting on Thursday, South and West Lynn representative Alexandra Kemp said any plan to move the library would have “huge ramifications.”

She said: “I saw a plan to turn the library into flats and it worries me.

“Can we look at options to keep the library where it is and expand there? We need to keep it in public ownership and the ownership of this town.”

The authority’s recently elected leader, Stuart Dark, said he was aware of Miss Kemp’s concerns and confirmed discussions were taking place with the county council on the issue.

He said: “We’re having early conversations about a positive future for that building and I want to see that asset continue and looked after.

“I will report back to councillors at the appropriate time as to what those discussions with Norfolk County Council look like, but we need to look at this in the round about the investment in the hub and getting that right.”

The hub proposal is among the ideas put forward in Lynn’s bid for a £25 million Towns Fund package from the Government, which was given the green light last month.

Mr Dark said the project would attract £7 million of central government cash and was backed up by the county council.

Its cabinet last month agreed to give officials the power to pursue proposals contained in the capital programme approved by the authority earlier in the year.

That included a commitment to provide £2 million in a proposed “capital contribution towards a new library in King’s Lynn dependent upon securing additional funding and planning”.

Mr Dark added: “The library isn’t what the 21st century hub-type library you get across Norfolk is available for.

“They’re talking about skills and training, a real centre of activity. That is why the move is being considered.”

The idea of moving the library has previously attracted criticism from heritage campaigners, who fear the very future of the building will be put at greater risk if it is not available for public use.

Officials from the Lynn Civic Society say they have been “assured” that community consultation will take place before any major changes take place.

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