Library may be relocated

Book now: Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman stands in High St, where a library could be built
Book now: Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman stands in High St, where a library could be built

Blenheim's library could be moved to a site near the Taylor River as the Marlborough District Council looks to revitalise the town centre.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman has proposed investigating alternative sites for a new library building there, which could then house community groups, provide better computer access for visitors, and house a street market.

One such site could be on land in High and Wynen streets near the river, with costs offset by the council selling its commercial property.

Mr Sowman said it was early days yet and no decisions had been made, but it would be good to discuss where the town's library should be.

The library was too small for the level of demand, and the Urbanism Plus town centre plan had decided it should go into the site where the civic theatre was, on the Queen, Arthur, Seymour, and Charles streets block. That plan had been set in 2009, Mr Sowman said, and people needed to think about whether that was still the best site.

"At this stage, we're not wedded to a particular site."

It was possible there were other, better uses for the theatre site, and council had been approached by a group with a potential use for it.

In a report to the council meeting on Thursday, prepared by council chief executive Andrew Besley, councillors are asked to support a proposal to signal in the council's draft annual plan that it is looking at options for the revitalisation of the Blenheim central business district.

"These options could include the purchase of some properties for future library and community buildings."

The report said it would be helpful if council were to reach a decision in the near future on the site of a new public library and any associated community centre in order to give certainty to the private sector about the location of council-funded development within the CBD.

"The options identified . . . are to identify possible ways forward. Council will need to consider the options in more detail at future meetings."

Those options include the development of the existing civic theatre block.

"This block is a strategically important site as it is on the western retail edge of the Blenheim central business district. It could be redeveloped as a library or community centre.

"Alternatively, it could be redeveloped and sold for commercial purposes. The site already has two commercial tenants and council has been approached by a non-retail organisation interested in another development on the site."

The report suggests that selling the Queen St site could offset the cost of building a library and community centre nearer the river. Analysis of properties in High and Wynen streets and the river precinct showed there were redevelopment opportunities, it says.

"Council could consider the viability of this location for a future library and community centre."

The Marlborough Express