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New plan for Orpington Library welcomed

PUBLISHED: 15:36 06 October 2010

Councillor Julian Benington unveils plans for the new Orpington Library

Councillor Julian Benington unveils plans for the new Orpington Library

Archant

Builders have started work on a new library as the next phase of a town centre redevelopment.

Orpington Library, the tenth busiest in London, will move to the former council offices in College Square, in the Walnuts Shopping Centre, next spring after £1.5million of improvement work has been completed.
The relocation comes as the next stage of the Orpington Masterplan, three months after London mayor Boris Johnson opened the town centre improvements.

Bromley council’s head of library services, David Brockhurst, said: “What we can do here is provide everything in a far more accessible way, and provide more IT facilities than we do at the moment.”

The decision to move the library from its current home in the historic buildings in the Priory, Church Hill, attracted criticism from some users who said that the new site was too close to Orpington College and a busy market.

But councillors claim that a new entrance to the college, away from College Square, mean the area is better for the modern building, and that it is impossible to provide disabled access at the Priory.

Executive councillor for renewal and recreation Julian Bennington said: “There was a bit of opposition but when we consider we have 200,000 visits a year it wasn’t that bad. This new building offers step free access, and because it is right in the middle of the town people can mix reading and shopping.”

The plans for the new library proved a hit to shoppers too last Thursday.

Retired Wende Retallick, 63, from Ramsden Road, said: “It’s a great place for the library, it’s really convenient. I can’t remember the last time I got a library book out, because the old library is out of my way but when it is here I can get a book while I am out shopping.”

Traders and shoppers endured months of roadworks as the changes to the high street were made, including wider pavements and modern pedestrian crossings as part of the plan to make Orpington more competitive as a business area.

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