Higham Ferrers library to be turned into building firm's office

After a two year saga the hope of keeping Higham Ferrers library is finally ended

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 9:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 2:08 pm
The former library was built in 1902.

The final chapter in the long-running saga of Higham Ferrers library is about to be written as it is set to become home to a local building company.

East Northants Council’s planning officers have recommended the application by owners Snowdon Homes Ltd to turn the library into its office, is approved.

The Jacobean-style library was one of 22 libraries put into jeopardy by Northamptonshire County Council two years ago as part of cost-cutting measures and moves to transfer the running and ownership of the buildings in community hands.

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While many buildings have been taken on by community groups and town councils, saving the library in Higham Ferrers was not to be as the voluntary libraries group decided it could not take on the financial risk and the town council did not offer to buy the building.

The county council marketed the building last November for £400,000. A report to go before next week’s planning committee says: “It is considered by the case officer that the library was not a viable community facility, or presented a viable prospect as had it done so, then there would have been a greater interest in retaining or acquiring the community facility.”

The library had its last day on December 31 last year. The loss of the facility means the closest library is now twelve minutes drive away in Rushden.

There is a 39m square room at the back which could still be used as a library, however, there is no one to run the book lending venture.

Paul Needle who was part of the Higham Ferrers Community Library group has lamented the loss of the library in the historic market town but said the offer to keep a room in the building as a library and community room was unworkable.

He said the town council’s plan to build a new community centre is ‘a castle in the sky’.

So far 12 libraries have been transferred over to community groups, with a number still to go through.

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