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Controversial plan to close Victoria Hall shelved

Controversial plans to close Glossop Library have been put on hold

Council talks over Glossop's Victoria Hall Library have been suspended while a Lottery-funded feasibility study into the long-term viability of the building takes place.

A controversial plan to close the Victoria Hall and transfer the library to a new building has been shelved pending the outcome of a specialist review. Victoria Hall was purpose-built in 1888 on land donated by mill-owner and philanthropist Francis Howard. In a covenant dated the year before, it was stipulated that the land was to be used “for the purpose of the erection of a public free library and public hall thereon.”

Glossop Library sign

Today, High Peak Borough Council acts as trustee, leasing the ground floor free-of-charge to Derbyshire County Council, which provides library services throughout the county. DCC has been trying to relocate the library for at least eight years, and has so far proposed four separate locations. This somewhat complicated arrangement has led to a stalemate, which is not entirely free of political differences. Most recently, DCC has offered to build a new £2M library on the site of the old St Luke's Primary School, stating the new facility will be “fit for the 21st Century.” High Peak, supported by a large number of residents, wants to retain the library within the hall, in keeping with the terms of the covenant.

A campaign group, Glossop SOUL (Save Our Unique Library), has been set up to save the Victoria Hall library. Having no political affiliations, SOUL has pledged to work with both councils in an effort to ensure the covenant terms are recognised and adhered to. The group has surveyed local residents on three separate occasions, and with between 95-97 per cent of respondents agreeing the library should be kept where it is, believes it has the community very much onside.

SOUL's efforts were partially rewarded in February, with confirmation of a £10,000 National Lottery Grant. The money will fund an in-depth examination of the hall and provide an architectural report into how best to refurbish and modernise the library. At the time of writing they are awaiting release of documentation showing the results of an invasive survey/schedule of dilapidations (a list of defects and appropriate repairs) which was conducted by DCC almost a year ago.

Having asked some 12,500 households what activities and facilities they would like to see in a refurbished Victoria Hall, SOUL's plans and proposals are being displayed at Bradbury House during June/July. More information can be found at saveouruniquelibrary.blogspot.co.uk