Documents have revealed that it cost £15,000 to end the agreement keeping The Friary in public hands.
Staffordshire County Council has unveiled proposls to move Lichfield Library to St Mary’s in the Market Square, allowing the existing site to be converted into residential properties by a private developer.
There has been criticism of the plan by members of the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party, who say The Friary should not be removed from public ownership.
Chairman Robert Pass said: “The Friary site was gifted in 1920 by Richard Cooper MP for the ‘permanent use and benefit of the citizens of Lichfield’,” he said. “It’s an important and historic public resource for the people of Lichfield and surrounding areas.
“It is not just a library building, but a fantastic community hub.”
But documents released under the Freedom of Information Act by Lichfield District Council reveal that an agreement was reached between the local authority and Staffordshire County Council to end the covenants surrounding future ownership.
An official contract shows that a £15,000 payment in 1995 ensured the county council could remove stipulations that:
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Ian Parry, has insisted that the plans for The Friary will safeguard the building’s long-term future.
“Instead of leaving buildings mothballed or allowing them to fall into disrepair, we have a county wide programme aimed at breathing new life into surplus and underused buildings to bring new jobs, homes and fresh investment into the county,” he said.
“This delivers best value for taxpayers, balanced with the building having an appropriate use.
“The proposed sale of the Friary will preserve the building’s appearance and safeguard its future in the heart of the city.”