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New Reading Library And Civic Centre Reception Redesign Given Go Ahead

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A brand-new purpose-built modern Central Library for Reading residents will be created at the redesigned Civic Offices after planning permission was granted yesterday.

New Reading Library - Front view

The plans include a new and improved customer services area for residents which includes the ability to use to self-serve terminals.

Work on the new resource for residents could now begin as soon as the spring after the Planning Applications Committee unanimously approved the plans.

The Bridge Street Civic Offices will be transformed to include a large two-storey extension at the front entrance over what is currently the forecourt and enclosing an atrium. The central library will be situated over two floors and will be fully accessible via a lift.

More than 1300 metres of shelving is planned, and the library is set to include a large children’s library, a teen section with comfy seating areas, desks and places for quiet study and research.

There are also plans for fiction, non-fiction, foreign language, and local studies books as well as spoken editions.

A multi-use events room is also set to be created for community use, in the new covered courtyard.

A welcoming reception area to the library will set off the new entrance to the Civic Offices. It is set to have a book drop and self-serve area, and a PC suite for public use, as well as the access to tablets and Chromebooks.

Councillor Jason Brock, Leader of the Council, said: “This is significant moment in the process of creating a top-quality library and customer service resource for Reading residents.

“The Civic Offices, and particularly the entrance, will be transformed by additionally becoming the new home of a modern central library – a purpose-built space, accessible to all, which will be a fantastic addition to this part of the town centre.

“The modern facilities are what residents deserve.

“Books in all their formats will be able to be borrowed. We also know reading is an integral part of a child’s life and development, so there will be a fantastic children’s area plus a teen and young adults’ section incorporating facilities they want, based on the positive consultation we had with them.

“The current Central Library has been well-loved and well-used since it was built in 1985. But, as the years pass by, there are limitations within the building itself and it’s come to the end of its functional life as a library.”

The planning application was considered on Wednesday 10 January. Completion is expected in 2025. The application can be viewed here – Agenda for Planning Applications Committee on Wednesday, 10th January, 2024, 6.30 pm – Reading Borough Council.

The modernisation of library services has been possible with a £19.1million investment into the cultural offer in the town by the Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Housing, or DLUCH. The money will also be used to create a new versatile performance space and community area at the Hexagon through a new accessible entrance. The revitalised theatre is set to become the heart of the Minster Quarter.

Find out more and follow progress on the Library, Civic Offices Reception Redesign projects here.