Library could relocate to town hall as part of £1.5 million ‘life centre’ revamp
Tyldesley’s library could move into the vacant town hall as part of a proposed £1.5 million makeover.
The new ‘life centre’ could also include a dementia cafe, a councillor drop-in surgery and meeting rooms for residents and community groups.
Both buildings are no longer fit for purpose in their current forms according to Wigan council, though the town hall is more likely to be redeveloped as it is in better shape.
The restrictive covenant on the library also prevents the land from being used for anything other than a free public library for the people of Tyldesley.
A report due to go before cabinet members on Thursday says: “It is proposed to retain and refurbish Tyldesley town hall in order to provide a community led historic building to benefit the local residents, by continuing to provide a well-respected library offer and to extend this offer to include a life centre
“The transformation of Tyldesley town hall would help to regenerate the high street and support the vision of attracting new businesses.”
Opened in 1909 as a Carnegie library, the building in Stanley Street no longer has working boilers and would cost £500,000 to fix up before any refurbishment could take place.
Visitors with mobility issues are currently forced to enter by a ramp at the rear of the building as the main entrance does not comply with the Equality Act.
A covenant placed on the building prevents it from being redeveloped, but the council could try and convince the beneficiary to allow alternative uses, or apply to the Land’s Tribunal to remove or change the covenant.
The report has recommended for officers to ‘explore the next stage for the legal status of the building’ and potential future uses.
Meanwhile the town hall, which was built in 1880 as the town’s Liberal Club, is in a ‘reasonable condition considering its age’ but costs the council £16k a year to keep open.
It falls within an area of the town, Elliot Street, which has been earmarked for significant investment through the Historic England government scheme.
In September, Wigan council and community group Driven secured funding to create a Heritage Action Zone along Elliot Street.
The report says: “Initial discussions have taken place between [council] officers and the Driven group. Historic England has also expressed an informal interest in any redevelopment works to the high street.
“This would enable the council to achieve its commitment in retaining the buildings heritage and conserving the town hall and put it at the heart of our regeneration and growth plans for Tyldesley.”
A life centre and library was created at Atherton’s town hall and opened last November following a £1 million revamp.
Between January and September this year, there were 10,000 library visitors and nearly 1,300 enquiries to the life centre, while 3,756 people used the public computers.
The report adds: “The success of Atherton town hall highlights the value of bringing services and much-valued community activities into one location.”