Major plans for an iconic 21st century building, which will transform how library and heritage resources are provided in the borough, have been revealed today by Doncaster Council.
These plans will be considered by Cabinet on July 4 and, if agreed, this new development could become one of the borough’s most eye-catching buildings delivering the very latest cultural facilities and services for the benefit of Doncaster.
The plan could see four existing buildings (Doncaster Central Library, Doncaster Archives in Balby, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and the Library Services for Schools at Top Road, Barnby Dun) consolidated into one dynamic central hub that will inspire creativity, informal learning and innovation.
The four existing buildings in question are older buildings and some of them are in need of significant repair. Money would need to be spent on making these improvements and even then, they could not offer the types of modern services we want to provide for residents.
The new building will be designed to sympathetically incorporate the frontage of the old Girls School which is expected to be restored to its former glory after being dormant for many years.
There will be 4,580m2 of modern and flexible space set over three to four floors.
The new space will help support the local and creative economy, by providing opportunities for young people, entrepreneurs, businesses and residents to develop skills that help build a successful career. The striking building will also have the space and facilities to display exhibits which have been locked away from public view for years, including:
*The famous Danum Shield
*Royal Borough Charters
*Heritage collections celebrating Doncaster’s proud history in railways, horseracing, mining and as a historic Roman town.
A raft of cutting edge facilities, technology, services and resources will be available too. Residents will be able to learn creative digital skills like computer programming, app design and coding, digital engineering skills, 3D printing or tap into innovation areas and virtual reality learning.
The new building will enhance library services by offering a first class environment to access traditional and modern reading materials for learning and pleasure.
Mayor Ros Jones, said: “This landmark building will become another big attraction in our town centre and enhance Doncaster’s wonderful cultural heritage. It will be a total step change to what is currently being offered.
“By consolidating four buildings into one unique building we will create a cutting edge space that will allow those using it to be creative, innovative and work together with others. It will attract leading literacy and heritage speakers, events and exhibits to the building and the borough and as well as being a wonderful resource for residents it will help bring new visitors to Doncaster.
“We said when we launched the Urban Centre Masterplan last year that it was designed to maximise our assets and create a thriving urban centre. This iconic building, which will encapsulate the key architectural features of the former girl’s school, is another piece in the jigsaw. We will be one step closer to fulfilling our vision for Doncaster as a great place to learn, live, do business, see great art and culture and a place for a growing creative industry.”
Dan Fell, Chief Executive from the Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is positive news that plans to transform the town centre are very real and that positive change to expand the town’s cultural offer is imminent.
“The Chamber is strongly backing the project as it will encourage short term and long-term inward investment in the town centre and positively impact on the local economy. Importantly, the project will offer digital support for business and education; the will particularly assist the creative industries sector and start-up businesses; the project also aligns well with Doncaster’s bid for a University Technical College – which is being led by the Chamber – where the curriculum will strongly encompasses digital skills and learning.
“We are assisting with consultation of business leaders about what the building should deliver, how it might support their activities and how it will bring added value to the town, to ensure that the building serves the needs of the private sector and local economy.”
Dave Adgar, Chair of the Friends of Doncaster Museum said: “This is an exciting time for learning and culture in Doncaster. The proposed integration of the museum, art gallery, library services and archives on one site will attract existing and new audiences to experience the nationally important collections here in our home town. The Friends of Doncaster Museums are proud to support this ambitious new venue in the heart of the borough.”
John Adam, Chair of the Doncaster and District Heritage Association, said: “The proposed new building will be extremely beneficial to the town and borough, giving both the local population the opportunity to learn and understand more about the almost 2000 years of heritage that is all around us every day.”
The project is projected to cost between £14 and £15 million to build. £10 million will be added to the council’s capital programme. The balance will be funded from borrowing which will be repaid by the savings made through running modern services from one highly efficient and fit-for-purpose building. Applications will also be submitted to national funding agencies, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council.
If the project is approved, the construction work is planned to start late summer 2018, with construction completing by early 2020 and the building opening by the Spring of that year.