New £14m Doncaster library and museum gets green light but councillors issue concerns

Councillors have approved a plan for a new town centre library and museum but raised concerns on the design and car parking capacity.

The proposed library and museum in Waterdale
The proposed library and museum in Waterdale

The £14 million Cultural and Learning Centre, based on Chequer Road, is hoped to be completed by the summer of 2020. Construction could begin as soon as next month.

The four-storey structure incorporates the historic Hall Cross Girls School building which the local authority were keen to preserve.

The plans see four existing buildings at Doncaster Central Library, Doncaster Archives in Balby, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, and the Library Services for Schools at Top Road, Barnby Dun, centralised to one building.

The new building will also become home to the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry exhibition, education space, a start up space for small and micro businesses and small and micro-business start-up space and training and conference facilities.

Libraries boss Nick Stopforth said residents will be able to experience a 'high class cultural offer' without having to travel to 'London, Sheffield, Leeds or Manchester'.

But some on the planning committee took issue to the design of the building's rear while one councillor called it 'shocking'.

The proposed new library and museum in Waterdale

Car parking capacity was also raised and another councillor added it would 'all end in tears'.

Officers responded to concerns and Mr Stopforth said the design reflected the 'best way forward' while balancing budgetary requirements.

Coun Wood took issue with the design of the back of the cultural centre and said it wasn't in line with the conservation area.

But planning officer Mel Roberts said it was 'adjacent to the conservation area'.

"I'm finding it very difficult to be honest. I wish I could refuse it because of the design because it's shocking," Coun Wood said.

"This is such a very austere building - conservation doesn't give a monkeys about cost."

Coun Dave Shaw raised the issue of parking along with Coun John Healy.

Coun Healy noted the council trying to sell off a nearby car park and the cinema development nearby as factors which would put more pressure on parking capacity.

Coun Shaw told the meeting: "Parking is going to be a real issue. In a ideal world we would have a fantastic, well funded, well connected transport system but we don't.

"People will end up parking on residential streets - people in surrounding areas already don't have enough parking as it is.

"Someone's got to wake up about parking in this area because it's going to end of tears.

"We all agree about the positives that this building will bring and what it's all about. But it's just about making small changes.

"At the moment, it's about architectural styles that I take issue with."

Addressing the meeting, Mr Stopforth said: "This fits with the council's vision for Doncaster to be a great place to live, learn and do business and to see great art and culture as well as a place for growing creative industries.

"This will unlock a huge part of Doncaster's rich heritage, a lot of which is currently behind closed doors."

Councillors voting in favour of the plans eight to one.