Bristol Central Library

central-libraryIn 2014, the Mayor Committee approved a plan for the Cathedral School to move into the two ground floors of Library. At their March 2015 meeting, the Planning Committee approved the School’s listed building application for consent to make changes to the interior of the Grade I listed building to expand its intake. Because there would be no alterations to the Library fabric, and because libraries and schools fall within the same use class, no planning consent was required. The Society did not make a formal response to the application because of a division of opinion. The objectors, who felt strongly about the matter, said that the scheme would harm the significance of the Grade I Listed building, which is a heritage asset of high significance.

The majority of the basement book stock would move to a new store, off-site. Some library users would have to wait 24 hours for books to be delivered from their new home. There would be insufficient daylight in the basement to provide a suitable environment to teach children. To support the application the School argued that the refit of the basement would bring conservation gains. The remodelling would remove the later mezzanine floor to restore the original basement lighting through glass bricks in the ground floor. In cooperation with the Council, the School would remove car parking from College Square and reinstate the railings along the library’s southern boundary. In cooperation with the Cathedral, the School would enhance the space outside the west front of the cathedral to integrate it with College Square. The School would pay for the removal of the reserve book stock to another site and finance a complete digital catalogue of the whole of the Library’s book stock to enable on line searches. The lighting in the basement would be adequate for teaching. Councillors spoke of the chronic shortage of school places that Bristol faces and voted to grant permission although the classrooms would not be perfect.

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John Frenkel

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