£2 Million Scheme Proposed to Create New Community Hubs

THREE buzzing new Community Hubs could be created in Reading under a proposed £2 million project.

The scheme would see major improvements to two of the borough’s existing community centres and an expansion of one of its libraries.

Residents will be able to take advantage of a wide range of services and activities being offered in modern surroundings and in convenient locations.

The scheme, being considered by the Council’s Policy Committee next week, will see the extension of Battle Library and the re-provision of library services at South Reading Youth and Community Centre and Southcote Community Centre.

An extensive review and consultation on the future of Reading libraries concluded in summer 2016 and resulted in all library branches being kept open. However, part of the review will see two libraries relocating to other council properties to create new Community Hubs.

Members of the Policy Committee meeting on 10th April will be asked to agree spending of up to £2 million to provide the following schemes:

·        Battle Library: The west Reading library will operate reduced hours and the building will be extended to enable access for community groups outside of opening hours. A planning application is due to be submitted in the spring, with building work due to start in the autumn for six months.

·        South Reading Youth & Community Centre:  Whitley Library will relocate to the community centre and additional improvement works will be carried out to enable it to operate alongside the existing day nursery, children’s centre and café. The works will allow the continued use of meeting spaces and room lettings as well as improving access and circulation around the building. Works are expected to start in the summer and will take six months to complete.

·        Southcote Community Centre: Southcote Library will be relocated to the community centre within an extended Community Hub, offering a children’s centre and community activities, including adult learning. A planning application is due to be submitted in spring, with building work due to start in autumn.

The Council has been looking to make the best use of its properties and dispose of those which become surplus to requirements. The current library buildings in Whitley and Southcote will be advertised for sale once the services have relocated to the new community hubs.

Councillor Liz Terry, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, said:

“This exciting project will see local centres becoming buzzing community hubs offering modern, multi-purpose facilities for residents, groups and organisations.

“This programme makes the best possible use of the Council’s properties and will provide the local communities with a wide range of services and activities in newly refurbished buildings. It also allows us to better join up services and to encourage local people to access a greater range of resources, help and support.

“The Council had to review its library service in the face of unprecedented cuts in government funding and, as a result, we are relocating two of our lesser used libraries to venues which are well-used by local people.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

The full report on Community Hubs which will be considered at the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday 10th April can be read here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/7081/item13/pdf/item13.pdf