Plans revealed to transform library

PUBLISHED: 09:04 03 November 2013

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter and Rachel Gilpin chief executive of the Estuary League of Friends look over initial proposals for developing the Topsham library. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref ext 2921-43-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter and Rachel Gilpin chief executive of the Estuary League of Friends look over initial proposals for developing the Topsham library. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref ext 2921-43-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Archant

Topsham Library’s opening hours could be increased if it becomes a charity’s community hub, residents have been told.

Devon County Council is in the early stages of negotiating the plan with the Topsham-based Estuary League of Friends, which could eventually see a new, two-storey building on the library site.

Initial plans are for the charity to start off with the existing building, running library services, and then using it for its own activities out of hours, but the long-term goal is for the new build to house both the library and a new Estuary headquarters.

The plans were unveiled in a public exhibition at Matthews Hall, and both the council and the charity are excited about their potential.

The library’s opening was cut from 26 hours a week to 15 in 2011, and Topsham county councillor Andrew Leadbetter is hoping the Estuary scheme will reverse that move.

He said: “Hopefully we are going to get an increased service, because the plan is to have the opening hours increased.

“That’s our primary aim, to get the library open, as far as I’m concerned, back to full opening hours like it used to be.

“I also believe it’s a way of protecting the library in Topsham, and also Estuary need space and this is the only land available in a good location, so the council wins as do Estuary.”

Estuary chief executive Rachel Gilpin confirmed the library’s hours could increase, depending on how many volunteers the charity could get, and said the new build would be a major boost for the charity, which currently has to rent facilities across the area for its activities.

She said: “It would be fantastic. We would have everything under one roof and could offer so many more services to Topsham and the surrounding area.

“It’s very early stages – today is about consultation. The next stage will be negotiating our contract and our plans for the site.

“One of the things people have said to me today is when are we going to start building, but it probably will be in its present state for a couple of years.”


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