Town library move takes a step closer

The current Morpeth Library building on Gas House Lane.
The current Morpeth Library building on Gas House Lane.

A planning application has now been lodged in relation to the temporary re-location of Morpeth Library to a new site in the town centre.

The move to Royal Sovereign House in Manchester Street is expected to be completed by May.

The interim measure comes as Northumberland County Council develops wider proposals for Morpeth and the riverside section where the current building is located is one of the key areas being examined.

Although Morpeth Town Council has not submitted an objection, members of its planning and transport committee have raised concerns over disabled parking and they are calling for a pedestrian crossing to be installed on Manchester Street.

Morpeth residents have previously gone to Royal Sovereign House to discuss tax queries as it contained a HM Revenue and Customs office. This closed two years ago.

In the application, the county council says that no changes to the facades or entrances are needed other than library notices and signage.

The only removal works required are for a small internal non-load bearing partition.

Joan Tebbutt, chair of the planning and transport committee, said at the meeting: “There are only three disabled spaces in the nearby St James’ car park and I was contacted by a few residents who are concerned about a lack of parking for blue badger holders who will want to keep going to the town library.

“I passed on their points to the county council’s network manager Lynne Ryan. She said an increase in the number of disabled spaces at St James is not being considered at the present time.

“She sent me an email saying there are parking areas nearby, including on-street parking bays, and motorists can park on double yellow lines in Manchester Street and neighbouring streets for up to three hours when displaying a blue badge and clock.

“But these areas are already congested and there will certainly be more blue badge holders driving to them, so I don’t think the residents will consider that a satisfactory response.”

The committee said a new pedestrian crossing is needed because the increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic will add to the large number of King Edward VI School children who cross the road on Manchester Street.

When the re-location plans were announced last month, the county council referred to a building survey of the library in Gas House Lane, which stated that a five-year programme of repairs and maintenance costing £500,000 would be required to bring it up to the required building standards.