Permanent library and coffee shop unveiled at newly renovated and extended community centre in Northampton

On the first day of opening, the library was stacked out with people and the coffee shop was extremely busy

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 8:56 am
Council clerk Tina Charteress (left), chairman Noel Lodge (middle) and vice chair Sara Homer (right). Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

A newly renovated Northampton community centre has officially reopened with new facilities including a permanent library space and a coffee shop.

Wootton Community Centre, in Curtlee Hill reopened to the public on Monday (July 26) as Wootton Parish Council unveiled the new facilities, funded by Section 106 funds (the money housing developers donate to be spent on the local community).

The neighbourhood used to be served by a library at Caroline Chisholm School, which was then moved to become a mobile library at the centre.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The new library, which proved popular on day one. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

To satisfy the community’s need for a permanent library, the extension of the community centre was based around giving the library a home.

After years of planning and building, the new centre was able to reopen on Monday and was buzzing with members of the public browsing for books and enjoying a coffee.

Chairman of Wootton Parish Council, Noel Lodge, said: “This has been two-and-a-half years in the making and we’ve been building through the pandemic.

“We had money from one of the housing developments and we had to do something about the library situation.

The outdoor gym opened in 2019. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“So we went out and polled the community and one of the other things they wanted to see was a coffee shop.

“We wanted to make sure the library stayed in the community and that was the driving force for this.

“Everything else was amalgamated around the library.

“When we designed it, we wanted to make best use of the space.

The coffee shop was also extremely busy on day one. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“It has been really well received. You couldn’t move in the library earlier.

“People have been saying this is just what the area needed.”

By 1pm on the reopening day, the library, run entirely by volunteers, had seen 73 and had signed out more than 50 books.

As well as the library, the new, bigger centre includes a spacious coffee shop, run by owner of popular tea room Number 50 in Duston, Jodie Turner.

Jodie Turner, owner of Number 50 in Duston, is running the new coffee shop. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

She said: "As first days goes it went well, we were extremely busy which is great and it was lovely to see so many people visit the community centre and stop by for coffee and cake.

"It’s great to see how much support we’ve already received. We sold out of all cakes by around 3pm so we definitely need more cakes!

"It’s been a hard few months but we did it and actually seeing customers sitting in today was just wonderful.

"My team has worked so very hard and I truly appreciate all the help everyone has given me."

There is also space in the centre for pop-ups, which will be used to promote local businesses and support charities during awareness weeks, as well as a corner set aside for a local base for Northamptonshire Police.

Tina Charteress, Clerk of the council, added: “We created this through lockdown so we are delighted that we have done it.

The extension has been years in the making. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“A lot of hard work and effort has gone into it so to achieve it is amazing.

“We also promised the people of Wootton that they would get a library after the history with it and we have delivered.”

The project led to Wootton Parish Council winning ‘Council of the Year’ for 2020/2021, which Tina is extremely proud of.

The parish council also opened a ‘fully functioning’ outdoor gym at the community centre in summer 2019, which was paid for by Section 106 money as well.