8 June 2016

Exhaustive business case supports Hove library move

A lengthy business case has been published by the city council supporting proposals to move Hove Library into nearby Hove Museum.

The 28-page document and an 18-page report will go before the policy, resources and growth committee on June 9.  It goes into fine detail on how the move would save the council having to spend between £301,000 and £735,000 over the next five years maintaining the listed 1908 Carnegie library building in Church Road.

Annual running costs of £337,000 would also be saved by the move and other modernisation changes.  

The report says its condition survey figures for the building have been checked by an independent building surveyor who broadly agrees with the findings.  He said further surveying of difficult-to-access areas could means costs escalating even further. Money raised from any sale of Hove Library would be used for improving both library and museum services in a new cultural centre, says the report.

Initial estimates suggest sale of the building in Church Road, would raise around £1m.  This would contribute to the £1.4m cost of creating a new extension of Hove Museum to house library facilities in a combined cultural centre.  The 250sqm extension would double space on the building’s ground floor.

Benefits of the proposal which library managers highlight include:

- Upgrading the museum, bringing more visitors to both museum and library, with improved exhibition space and activities
- A new ground floor IT suite for public use
- Broadening the cultural programme, with adult education, talks and workshops
- Combining library and museums resources for cultural experiences beyond traditional browsing and learning
- Working with families and children to provide services supported locally
- Strengthening the case for additional external funding
- Improving the garden, café and retail, generating income to support services
- Hiring out spaces or facilities
- A dedicated room for the Wolseley Collection
- Outside activity areas and space for older children, lacking in the old library

A majority of people responding to a survey between last November and February supported the plan.  Fifty seven per cent of 1,124 people approved, or strongly approved.

The report says the only other likely way of saving similar sums would be to close between five and seven neighbourhood libraries.

Further money for building the museum extension would come from selling Hollingbury Library building in Carden Hill for an estimated £350,000.  Its books and services would be delivered through new facilities at Hollingbury and Patcham Children’s Centre in County Oak Avenue and the Old Boat Community Centre in Hollingbury.

Council leader and chair of the committee Cllr Warren Morgan said:  “We can no longer afford the costs of running the Carnegie Library.  But we can use these changes to create something better, which is more than the sum of the current library and the museum.  We’ll develop more creative space and modernise services with better IT facilities.  By combining these resources we can fill the building with more reasons to visit and create something owned and supported by the people of Hove.”

The principal of selling the old building and moving library facilities to the Museum site was agreed, as part of the Libraries Plan, at full council on March 24.  The report is on the council website.