Refurbishment of the West Library vacant first floor room (135sqm) into a youth employment and support hub, including lift access, toilets and associated works.
(Planning application number: P2021/1470/LBC)
In the discussion the following points were made:
· In response to a member’s question about whether the whole building was listed, the officer confirmed that the entire building was listed in 1994.
· A member asked about energy efficiency improvements and was advised that these would be made. The reading room would be refurbished. Possible energy efficiency measures might include secondary glazing, shutters, underfloor heating and more energy efficient lighting. Condition 5 included a schedule of works for the first floor to be approved.
· A member asked about the proposed materials for the lift. The officer stated that the details of the materials would have to be approved. It was likely that glass and metal would be used as timber and glass could detract from the lobby. The glass should not be a problem with the visually impaired.
· The officer outlined the four options considered for the lift as follows:
- Option A was the continuation of the platform lift that was there at the moment. Although this would be an ideal access point, the lift would result in a large box on the outside of the library which had remained almost the same as when it was built.
- Option B was an external lift in the rear yard. Lift users would have to go into the library to use the lift and part of some windows would be lost. In general, external lifts had more maintenance issues.
- Option C had the lift located in the reading room. This had been discounted as this would remove a circulation function from the lobby. It was proposed that the top hub room could be used for events as well as meetings and the lift being used could cause disruption to the events.
- Option D was the proposed option being presented to members for consideration. The location of the lift would be in the entrance lobby.
· A member asked whether option D aligned with potential future uses of the first floor and the officer advised that it did and if the lift was in the reading room, the users of the first floor would be disturbed.
· A member stated that to have the building back in full use was welcomed and supporting young people into work was vital.
· In response to a member’s question about the status of the lobby, the planning officer advised that the lobby was classified as “of moderate significance” whereas the whole building was classified as “of high significance”. The harm to the entrance lobby of installing the lift there would be “less than substantial”.
· A member raised concern about the damage and harm which would be caused to the entrance lobby and stated that the disruption caused to events on the first floor would be minimal. He considered that the alternative options required more consideration.
· The planning officer stated that putting the lift in the reading room would be a major change to the plan form with a service and circulation use put in space that should be library space. There was a adult library on one side of the building, a children’s library on the other side and the circulation space in the middle of the building.
· The member stated that the majority of users would not use the lift and so there would be a small increase in circulation.
· A member expressed concern about children having to enter the adult library to use the lift and potential embarrassment of lift users when entering an event.
· A member suggested that partitions could be used. The planning officer stated that modern partitions could be used but there was concern about not including those with mobility issues in the main circulation space.
· A member suggested an alternative proposal which involved putting a doorway between the lobby and the reading room and putting the lift in the reading room but with the lift entrance in the lobby.
· A member suggested that a site visit could take place.
Councillor Klute proposed a motion to defer the consideration of the application for more consideration of the options available by the applicant. This was seconded by Councillor Clarke and carried.
That the consideration of the application be deferred for the reason outlined above.