Council planning committee gives green light to transform old Twyford school into library and community space

A planning application to transform an old school in Twyford into a library and community space has been approved by Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) planning committee.

The council application, which was brought before the committee on Wednesday,

February 10, looked to restore and convert the old Polehampton Boys’ School building into a library.

The current library in Twyford is located in a temporary portable building in Polehampton Close.

The proposals also include building a single storey lobby/ link area, as well as a two-storey extension to be used for multi-purpose community facilities such as a cafe, and the demolition of the current public toilets.

The Polehampton Trust, which is the freehold owner of the grade II-listed building dating back to 1877, was granted approval to turn the site into a library, cafe, community facility, police office and parish council office back in 2016. However, this consent has since lapsed.

At a meeting in July 2019, WBC agreed in principle to support the creation of a new library at the site.

The council has provided £720,000 for phase one of the project, which includes the refurbishment of the building with a single storey extension at the rear to be used as a new entrance.

Phase two of the project, which is a ‘longer-term vision’ of the site, involves a two-storey extension at the rear which includes a cafe and community facility, and the demolition of the current toilet block.

Speaking prior to the vote of approval, leader of the council, John Halsall, said: “Tonight I’m delighted to support the Polehampton Twyford library planning application, creating a beautiful building in the village centre.

“It has been a long journey, but highly enjoyable.”

Following the meeting, Cllr Stephen Conway (Lib Dem, Twyford) told the Advertiser: “I began the campaign for a new library many years ago – 20 to be precise. It was marvellous to have been able to speak and vote in support of it at last evening’s planning meeting.”

He added: “The people of Twyford have supported our campaign throughout. They have signed the many petitions I submitted to the council calling for a new library and have kept the flame burning when all seemed hopeless.

“I thank them for their commitment and perseverance.”

The vote for conditional approval was unanimous.

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