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People to be given a say on makeover for Dartford library

Plans for a revamp of Dartford library have been put on hold by Kent County Council until people have had the chance to have their say.

It is hoped the plans will go on display at the library from tomorrow (Friday) but this had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

A spokesman for the council said: “Due to the historic nature of the building, a planning application had been submitted to determine what changes might be acceptable, but KCC understands the concern this has raised locally.

Dartford library
Dartford library

“The application has now been withdrawn in order to explain the options for the scheme and allow people the chance to contribute their comments. The display in the library includes explanatory information as well as initial proposals for how the layout could look.”

Earlier this month we revealed the plans that would once again link the library and neighbouring museum, but at the same time, clear out bookshelves and house an independent living skills centre.

Several letters opposing the plans were penned and Dartford council itself expressed reservations on the idea.

The scheme, costing about £450,000, proposes a general refurbishment of the library including restoration work on the listed shelving, new furniture, new flooring that would look to replicate the look and feel of the old parquet flooring, new public toilets and a new entrance to the museum via the library.

In order to provide facilities for those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, KCC also intends to include “Changing Places” toilets which offer additional space and specialist equipment.

Dartford library circa 1937.
Dartford library circa 1937.

The main concerns were around bookshelves being removed with the space being “transformed with more flexible free standing furniture”.

There were also worries about the “Good Day Programme”, which would teach independent living skills, including offering cooking classes within the library.

Kent’s community services boss Cllr Mike Hill said: “Our staff have been working very hard on producing a scheme that would sensitively preserve Dartford Library for the foreseeable future.

“This is a sizeable investment in difficult times and our proposal reflects the need to ensure the building is fully accessible for all our customers who visit us, not only to borrow books but to study, join a group or class, access our free Wi-Fi, or use a public computer.

“A lot of work needs to be done to bring it up to the standard of some of our other excellent libraries throughout the county such as Gravesend and we look forward to hearing people’s views on the proposals in due course.”

The plans for the library were due to go before Dartford council at a planning meeting on August 7.

Officers recommended the plans go before the Secretary of State for decision, though the council recommends granting permission.

The council has received 12 letters of objection and one of support.

This has now been removed from the agenda and will be looked at again once KCC makes a decision.

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