Plan to move Essex library into the 'welcome area' of council offices

Epping Library being moved into council offices has moved a step closer, following a decision by the district council. Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are looking to relocate the library in St Johns Road into the civic offices in Epping.

The council has agreed to commit “to the principles” of sharing space and co-locating with library services in the existing Welcome Area, Welcome Lounge, Community Hub and associated areas on the ground floor of the civic offices.

Negotiations are ongoing for Essex County Council’s Registration Service and Brambles Family Hub, which are also based at the library. The circular space at the front of the building which is being used as an existing community hub has been identified as the area for the library.

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Councillor Jon Whitehouse said he had concerns there was the correct space but he reserved other concerns about the new home retaining its identity as a library. He said: “There’s a danger when you co-locate a service, the identity gets lost a bit, particularly when it’s inside a building. You need to be clear from the outside that it’s a library and it’s open to people to come in to take advantage of.”

Leader of Epping District Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “What this is about is intent which has been there for a long time to bring the library into this building and make this a vibrant hub for the community, building on the uses.

“In the modern world, we are going to end up with a lot more one estate where we are going to have partner organisations with us in the same building. And it’s a fact of life whether you're in health or you are a county council with a library.

“And you see different arrangements across the county. The most important thing is to make public buildings efficient and reduce the footprint for carbon issues as well.”