Buckinghamshire County Council have announced plans to renovate its former 1930s library in Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe and turn the building into offices.
The plan is to convert the two-storey building into modern offices but in a sensitive and creative way which retains its period features. This will ensure that it continues to blend with its contemporaries, the neighbouring police station, district council offices, and former post office.
The former library’s historic features will be retained in the remodelling which will involve restoring and replicating neo-Georgian timber and glazed screens, and restoration of art-Deco glazing insets in the ceiling.
Also included in the restoration will be the terrazzo floored reception and removal of a first floor corridor wall to reinstate the original balcony overlooking the reception.
Along with roof refurbishment, restoring original timber sash windows, replacing the electrical and heating systems, and upgrading the toilets, a lift will be installed making the building more accessible.
John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: ‘This is an impressive, attractive and important heritage building in a conservation area, and as a responsible custodian of such buildings we want to restore and protect it.
We’d like to bring it back into contemporary use, which I believe will be good for the vitality of the town centre, and continue to make a great contribution to the High Wycombe townscape.‘
A planning application to change the use of the building to offices, along with the part demolition of a single storey rear extension, will be considered by Wycombe District Council in March 2018. Work could start in the summer of 2018.
The former library building in Queen Victoria Road closed at 4.00pm on Saturday 19th April 2008. Library services transferred to the new, larger library in the Eden shopping centre nine years ago.
Since the former library building closed Buckinghamshire County Council has been seeking an alternative use for the 1930s building but has been limited by a covenant restricting its use to library or educational purposes. After a long legal process this covenant has now been removed.
There has been a public library in High Wycombe since the early 1870s when philanthropist James Oliff Griffits paid for the first one to be opened in the old Church Street school ‘to give the poor the opportunity to further their education‘.