PLANS to convert a former school into a library have been welcomed as a victory for the community.
Lib Dem councillor for Twyford, Stephen Conway said that the approval last month from Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee was “extremely good news”.
“It will be for many, many people in Twyford who have wanted this and have signed petitions that I have submitted, and worked in various ways to try and get us to where we are. A lot of people have contributed to this, so it’s really, really good news for the community.”
The council has greenlit funding for the first phase of the project, which will see the former Old Polehampton Boys School – a Grade II listed building – turned into a library and lobby with the addition of a single-storey extension.
The planning consent included a further two-storey extension that could potentially be provided in the future subject to funding.
External landscaping work will take place, along with the removal of the old public toilets.
The council has worked in partnership with The Polehampton Trust, who own the building.
It will replace the existing library in Polehampton Close.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, said: “I am sure residents will share my excitement as we move one step closer to re-developing and opening a brand-new library facility in Twyford.”
“We are proud to have committed to this project despite the financial pressures that Covid-19 has presented. Where many councils are closing libraries over recent years, we are delighted to be investing in a new facility that will serve the local community for years to come.”
Cllr Conway said that he had been campaigning for the library for many years, and kept the issue alive when previous Conservative-run administrations had turned the idea down.
“It’s refreshing that (council leader John Halsall, Conservative candidate for neighbouring Remenham, Ruscombe and Wargrave) has taken a different view.
“But it’s quite inaccurate to claim that this is a Conservative project … this is a community project delivered because of a lot of effort from lots of different people.”
And Cllr Conway says he will keep his eye on the future of the project.
“Phase One enables us to have the new library we’ve wanted for a long time. Phase two will be the icing on the cake. We will be doing everything we can to try and ensure that we get phase one as well as phase two.”
Speaking before purdah started, Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, the executive member for regeneration, said: “It’s incredibly important that we continue to invest in community facilities as our borough grows.
“This includes regenerating villages and towns throughout the borough.
“Twyford Library is a much valued and key facility for thousands of residents in our northern parishes, providing vital services.”