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Opinion : Will Wycombe’s former library end up as housing after conversion to offices?

| February 6, 2018


Oh dear. It seems the former library building in Queen Victoria Road may be converted into offices.

My heart sank upon reading the article that appeared in the news section of this site today entitled ‘Plans announced to convert former library in Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe into offices‘.

After laying empty for nearly ten years the building has now been doomed to be converted into offices.

Of course in these modern times offices can easily be converted into housing so my good self wonders what the chances are that in the next few months we hear that the former library is going to be turned into houses and sold off raising a premium for the owners?

Apparently the delay in purposing a use for the building was because there was a covenant on the building restricting its use to library or educational purposes however after a long legal process this covenant has now been removed.

The covenant was there for a reason and its very disappointing that the people of today have decided to tinker with legal restriction imposed by those involved in the creation the building for the benefit of the people of High Wycombe.

Laughingly the news article featured a quote which contained the words ‘….as a responsible custodian of such buildings we want to restore and protect it’. Well if that’s the case why has the building been left to rot for nearly ten years with paint peeling from the timber window frames allowing the original wood to start to go rotten?

In my opinion the former library building typifies the modern day town of High Wycombe perfectly. Take a very nice building that people enjoyed, close it down, let it rot for nearly TEN years then take the easy option by converting it into offices.

If ever a building deserved listing then surely the former library building would be a perfect candidate? Remaining mostly in tact with original doors and windows, terrazzo floored reception, neo-Georgian timber and glazed screens and art-Deco glazing insets in the ceiling this building would surely be deserving of a listing to protect it?

Amazingly the former library building is not listed at all and could be reduced to rubble if the owners desired.

Over the past ten years surely the do gooders who seek to preserve Wycombe’s heritage should have made sure the former library building was afforded protection? I fear the fact builders can freely do conversion work as they please merely highlights the failure of the building protection movement in Wycombe.

It’s such a shame that a community based use could not have been found for the former library building. Indeed it would have been excellent as one of the new ‘community hubs’ as part of the re-organisation for early help services for children and families in Buckinghamshire.

With the magnificent library gardens currently under threat from the wicked ‘Masterplan’ currently decimating the free and fast movement of traffic in High Wycombe your humble servant fears the worst for the former library building.

Of course there is one glimmer of hope. If you happened to read my excellent blog entitled ‘My predictions for Wycombe in 2018‘ published earlier in the year then the conversion of the library into office related activities was number three on my list of predictions. The building may be turning to office related purposes but the questions is ‘offices for whom?’

What do you think?

My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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