A new library centre is to be built in the heart of Worcester in what is believed to be the first scheme of its kind in Europe.
City planners have given the go-ahead to Worcester’s innovative new library and history centre which is set to cost £60 million.
The joint project between Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester is set to house Europe’s first fully-integrated public and university library. Once completed, the centre, which will be open to all members of the public and students of the university, is expected to attract one million visitors a year. The development, having been approved by the city’s planning committee, will also house the Worcestershire Record Office, Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service and the Worcestershire Hub Customer Service Centre.
Developer Galliford Try, the firm appointed to deliver the project through a Private Finance Initiative, lodged the detailed planning application with Worcester City Council.
Members of the committee described the development as “iconic” and “revolutionary” with one councillor suggesting it could become as significant in its own right as the city’s cathedral.
Peter Parkes, head of strategic projects at Worcestershire County Council, said: “This is an important day for the people of Worcestershire and the West Midlands region as a whole.
“The planning approval reflects the overwhelming public support we have received for the project and will see the construction of a world-class facility to house a wide range of new and innovative services, providing opportunity and access for all. The whole project will help to regenerate this area of the city centre and bring new jobs and economic benefit to the region. ”
Anne Hannaford, director of information and learning services at the University of Worcester, said they were “absolutely delighted” with the decision. “This joint library and history centre will provide something for everyone, whether it’s a quiet space to work or read or a place to meet friends and socialise. We can now look forward to getting it built and to start using this amazing facility.”
Stephen Lamont, project director for Galliford Try Investments, said: “The approval from the city planners gives the green light for this significant community project to go ahead and, while a great deal of work still remains to be done, I welcome this announcement.”
The Worcester Library and History Centre will play a role in the regeneration of the city centre. Work will begin on The Butts site this year with the centre scheduled to open in January 2012.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport provided Worcestershire County Council with £40.9 million of PFI credits, the county council added £6.6 million, the university and HEFCE contributed more than £10 million, Advantage West Midlands £7 million and the city council £300,000.