Update on Kings Heath Library temporary closure
At the moment Kings Heath Library is temporarily closed. Anyone who has visited the library in recent months will have noticed the extensive amount of temporary scaffolding inside the library. This scaffolding was inserted due to concerns about the structural safety of the roof.
With the recent heavy snowfall, the library was temporarily closed, since it was feared that one of the roof skylights might collapse and injure anyone in the library below.
A structural survey of the roof and floor was done in early December and I was informed of the outcome of this survey last Wednesday (22nd December). The results were as follows:
- · The roof is structurally sound, although it needs re-felting
- · The floor is structurally sound. Sections of the floor have slightly sunk and this was found to be due to previous movement within the building which has now settled
- · The wooden frames of the glass skylights are rotten and need replacing.
The cost of replacing the skylights with exact replicas is approximately (and this is a finger in the air estimate) to be £300k. The replacements have to be exact replicas since the building is statutory listed grade II.
Mindful of the present financial squeeze, it is proposed to go ahead with a cheaper alternative which will at least keep the library open for a number of years. This will give is time to find the money to fully repair the roof and skylights.
It is proposed to replace the present temporary scaffoldings with permanent scaffolding - cost £55k. The permanent scaffolding will be the equivalent of inserting a false ceiling, albeit with greater structural strength, which will stretch from wall to wall, with none of the current ugly vertical scaffolding. Artificial lighting will also be needed.
The earliest we are likely to get the roof and skylights repaired is 2012. This is due to a massive financial pressure next year of £1.8million required to strip the Sutton Coldfield library building of asbestos by December 2011
Working with the Acting Director for Constituencies, between us we managed to find the required £55k by last Friday (24th December) and an order has now been placed for the permanent scaffolding.
When the Council Officers come back from the Christmas break next week, I will be in better position to confirm when the permanent scaffolding will be installed. Also, I will know if the library can re-open, while we wait for the permanent scaffolding to be inserted.