Permanently closed Northampton community library could become pregnancy clinic

It comes after a councillor previously asked the former county council if they were 'selling the library to the NHS.'

Friday, 11th June 2021, 7:45 am
The former library on the first floor of the Far Cotton Rec Centre could become an antenatal clinic.

Plans have been submitted to convert a Northampton community library into a antenatal clinic just months after it was shut for good.

Despite a furious response by residents, Far Cotton Library was permanently closed this year after the county council ruled there was 'no viable business plan' in place for volunteers to run it.

Instead, a proposal has been put to the local planning board to refit the library - on the first floor of the Far Cotton Recreational Centre in Towcester Road - into an antenatal clinic.

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The centre would support pregnant women preparing to give birth and would be made up of five consulting rooms.

A consultation is now open for nearby residents and groups to comment on.

The former library was closed despite efforts by the Friends of Far Cotton Library volunteer group to put forward a business plan to take it into their own hands.

In fact, at the county council's last ever meeting, Far Cotton councillor Julie Davenport asked the leadership to confirm if the centre was being 'sold to the NHS', but received no reply.The antenatal plan has been submitted by the NHS.

A pharmacy currently operates on the ground floor of the rec centre.

The closure came after 17 libraries were earmarked for closure in 2019 in the aftermath of Northamptonshire County Council going bankrupt.

The Friends were working on a second business plan after its first one was rejected, but were 'furious' in February to find the books at the centre were being removed and other tenants were 'being explored.'

A report in 2019 warned against closing the library highlighting that its demise would have a significant detrimental affect on children, the elderly and the disabled.

But there were concerns a community-managed library would be unsustainable due to a lack of volunteer and the costs of maintaining the building.

At the time, the Friends group submitted a business plan but the council decided it was not viable so the volunteers sourced a £15,000 grant from the Bright Ideas Fund to support their bid. This had to be given back.

The two parties last met in February 2020, where the council says the volunteers conceded there is still no viable business plan and it confirmed that the library would shut without one.

The decision to close the library was also impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.