New library complex a “blight on Shenfield for years and years to come”

A green light for a new Shenfield library – described as a “blight on Shenfield for year and years to come”- will usher in property speculation and even more flat development.

The county council development will see the construction of a new three-storey building providing a new library and a commercial unit on the ground floor and nine flats above on the first and second floor after ECC’s planning committee voted through the plans.

Essex County Council (ECC) has said that it is clear from the Essex Future Library Services Strategy 2019-2024 that in the long term – “it is unlikely that ECC will be able to maintain a library on the site without some form of change”.

But the plans, which were given permission for have been heavily criticised  – not least due to fears it would now usher in a raft of similar developments further along Hutton Road.

Cllr Mike Mackrory, who voted against said: “I can see that it is going to create development opportunities for property speculators to buy up properties along there and continue to have flats all the way along there in the not too distant future.

“I cannot support it. It will be a blight on Shenfield for years and years to come.”

Ward member Cllr Barry Aspinell said: “I have over many months had extensive dialogue with many local residents seeking their views, concerns and expectations over the county’s proposals for our library service and the future of the library building.

“And what has been made abundantly clear is that residents are extremely disappointed with the plans put forward.

“I share these views.

“Additionally, objections raised by consultees mirror my own concerns.

The new building design, we are told, will be in keeping with the street scene.

“But this is something. I cannot agree with.

“I accept that a new three-storey design when viewed at certain angles matches in height with an adjacent flat-roofed shopping parade but that parade in my opinion already demonstrates a distinct lack of character and is already dire need of remodelling.

“Looking the opposite direction, construction of a new library building to include nine apartments with balconies at second and third floor levels would not only serve to extend this featureless section of the street but create an overbearing presence and intrusion of privacy currently enjoyed by the private dwelling s situated within a very close proximity.”

Cllr Jon Jowers, who voted for said: “I think this could make an impact, however you say an impact will be.

“I think this is a massive improvement on what is already there.”

Work on developing a new library and housing complex in Shenfield is likely to be completed by 2024.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter