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Council admits delays to work on new Lichfield Library after tearing up deal with building contractor

Council bosses have admitted that work on Lichfield’s new library has been delayed – but insist it will still finish this year.

An artist's impression of the new interior of St Mary's in the Market Square

An artist’s impression of the new interior of St Mary’s in the Market Square

The timeframes around the £1.2million project to convert St Mary’s in the Market Square to become the library’s new home have slipped after the decision was taken to terminate the contract with Heritage Building and Conservation.

Staffordshire County Council said the deal was torn up due to “non-performance” – with the company going into administration in May.

But the work has now been picked up by Croft Building and Conservation Ltd.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “Unfortunately this interruption has delayed the project and the building conversion work is now scheduled to finish in stages between October and December.

“We’re still excited about what the new library will bring to the people of Lichfield and in the meantime the existing library will remain open as usual until St Mary’s is ready to move into.”

St Mary's in the Market Square. Pic: Bs0u10e01

St Mary’s in the Market Square. Pic: Bs0u10e01

The work being carried out at St Mary’s includes exposing the church’s original features and 19th Century columns, incorporating etched glass screens into the new layout and retaining the altar, choir stalls and pews at the east end as a study area and IT suite.

While one end of the first floor will have a balcony overlooking the level below, its central space will be occupied by a performance and exhibition area, while the building will also have a photographic archive, education room and local history access point.

The decision to move the library from its current home at The Friary was a controversial one, with thousands signing a petition in a bid to prevent the move from happening.

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  1. Mat

    22nd July, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    So not only are the Friarsgate plans in tatters but so it seems are the library plans .Odd, because as one of those collecting the 5000 plus signatures, we were informed that the siting of the library was said to be hand in glove with the centre of Lichfield shifting to Friarsgate and that this was the only solution to the market square not becoming devoid of footfall. In the council chamber, it was us who were accused of misleading the public. How sweet the truth actually is!

  2. AnnS

    23rd July, 2018 at 9:57 am

    I haven’t seen anything in the local press. More secrets. So, once again if it were not for Lichfield Live we would be none the wiser.

  3. Steve

    23rd July, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    I seem to remember someone making a comment on LL to say they were on the St Marys Board / committee and saying this project was progressing with no problems. Was this lies?

  4. AgitatorofPeople

    23rd July, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I was just reading some of the old back articles on this site, one of the local Green Party representatives said this about how the issue of the Friary sale and how St Mary’s selection was handled back in 2016:
    “However, these revelations will do little to reassure those in Lichfield who feel that they are being kept in the dark when it comes to key decisions concerning the future of the city.”
    Which sounds remarkably like recent articles two years later, surrounding Friarsgate and the councils dealing with the public, it’s far from a new problem, its institutional systemic distrust of the people the council serve, you and I.