Ottery St Mary library plan gets go-ahead

Former NatWest Bank building in Ottery has been earmarked as the new library site

Former NatWest Bank building in Ottery has been earmarked as the new library site - Credit: Archant

Members of the community flocked to open day for new town centre facilities

Scores of people turned out to view plans and share ideas for the future of Ottery library on Saturday.

Plans to convert the former NatWest bank in the heart of town into a library and tourist information centre with public toilets have been given the go-ahead.

Members of the community are now being asked to submit suggestions for what the building should be called and many attended an open day at the weekend to express their views and find out more.

Town councillors last year put in a successful £139,500 bid for the NatWest premises, but faced a mixed response to their decision to dip into the public purse.

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Members said there was overwhelming public support for the facility – and now they have permission to develop it.

The application says the current library has steep stone steps that make it ‘impossible to access’ for the disabled - and the existing tourist information office also suffers from access issues.

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Mayor Glyn Dobson said it is ‘great news’ that the Silver Street premises can now be renovated – with full disabled access to all facilities.

He added that, now the project has been given the go-ahead, work on the toilets can start imminently.

Final details still need to be agreed with the newly-formed Libraries Unlimited South West – which will be responsible for agreeing the final design of the library.

The application adds that the new toilets – although close to existing facilities – will be more centrally located and much easier to access. The loos at The Flexton will close once the new ones are up and running. Two yew trees will have to be removed for new drainage, to address concerns about potential damage to the foundations and to prevent the ‘security issue’ of them shielding the entrance to the toilet.

Cllr Dobson said these will be replaced with two new trees.

In its application, the town council said: “We feel this proposal is the perfect use for the building. All three uses will benefit the town in many ways and help to maintain the footfall and health of the town. These works involve no changes to the external façade of the building and will therefore have no adverse effect on the conservation area.”

Chairman of Friends of Ottery Library, Jonathan Stoneman, said: “We are delighted that the library is going to move into what should become a new community hub. Libraries are not just about books, they are about being a lynchpin in the community and this new move should cement Ottery’s library at the centre of the community.”

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