Consultation survey on preferred option for Ulverston Library and The Coro

Visualisation showing how the expanded library space in The Coro could look

People are being asked to share their views on the preferred option for Ulverston’s library services and The Coro.

A consultation has been launched asking for feedback on proposals that would see considerable investment in The Coro to create an enhanced and expanded library - including new children’s library and community activity spaces - along with re-modelling of The Coro to include a new café and more flexible spaces for community use.

Westmorland and Furness Council has worked with architects and independent consultants to explore a range of options for protecting, enhancing and revitalising The Coro and library services in Ulverston.

In total eight options have been analysed, all with different scope and costs. These ranged from ‘do nothing’ to light-touch upgrades and full refurbishments of the King’s Road Library building and The Coro, and various combinations of these approaches.

All the options have been assessed by independent social and economic research experts Ekosgen against a range of objectives, including:

  • How the options most effectively meet community needs and support a strong sense of community
  • How the options best improve the vitality, diversity and sustainability of the library service and The Coro
  • How the options contribute to the regeneration vision outlined in the Ulverston Place Plan (see Editor’s Notes)
  • How affordable and achievable each option is, and which offers the best value for money for Council Tax payers

After considering all the eight options, the option with the greatest potential to deliver against the key objectives is:

Investment in The Coro to enable a co-location of Ulverston Library Service

This would focus cultural, learning and creative arts on a single destination and require investment to re-model The Coro building. Layout changes would include re-locating office spaces and the upstairs bar and kitchen to enable an expanded library on the first floor, also creating new flexible community spaces on both the ground and first floors, accessible toilet facilities on the ground and first floors and a new café bar area for both library and venue users.

This is now the preferred option for the council and the consultation is inviting views on the details of the proposal before any final decisions are made.

An online survey includes more information about the preferred option, plans, illustrations and a ‘walk-through’ video showing how the library and re-modelled Coro could look.

You can see the plans, illustrations and video by completing our online survey

You can also read more background and answers to questions on costs and options in our UPDATED FAQS

All members of Ulverston Library will be contacted directly, as will groups and organisations that regularly use the Coro and Library. Anyone unable to access the online consultation can complete a paper version of the survey available from Ulverston Temporary Library in The Coro, where there are also displays and more information about the proposal.

Councillor Virginia Taylor, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, said: “We recognise the huge value of our libraries, not only as places to borrow books, but also as places to study and access IT facilities. They are places for the arts, for voluntary groups and, increasingly, they are places delivering community-based services and community meeting spaces.

“We are also committed to making sure our services can be delivered in fit-for-purpose community buildings. As a new authority, we need to make sure we make best use of our buildings and we need to ensure our services can be delivered in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible, so that they are sustainable in the long-term.

“That isn’t always easy. Finding the balance between providing the best services and being cost-effective is a challenge.

“Which is why we believe it is crucially important to look very carefully at how we provide and invest in important services like libraries before we make any decisions.

“We have been through exactly the same process with the remodelling of our libraries in Kendal and Barrow, which has resulted more flexible spaces being created for community and arts events and services such as adult learning and family hubs being moved into the buildings to make them more accessible to our communities.

“We have now carefully examined a range of options for the future of library services in Ulverston since the closure of the library on King’s Road due to electrical faults.

“We have taken into account how we can protect and enhance the current library service, how much investment would be needed to achieve our community aims, how cost-effective that would be and, importantly for Ulverston, how all of that relates to the future of The Coro.

“We have looked at options including the cost of re-opening King’s Road and how a permanent co-location in The Coro might work alongside and complement the venue. We wanted to look in detail at how different options, combinations of options and levels of investment would best support the future of both the library service and The Coro.

“If finally approved, the preferred option would result in millions of pounds of investment in The Coro, not only to create an expanded library but also improve The Coro itself, with a new community café and more flexible spaces for community use. The independent assessment concludes this would benefit library users, the wider Ulverston community and improve the long-term sustainability of The Coro.

“We believe this represents an exciting opportunity but it is now vitally important that we understand your thoughts on this proposal before any final decisions are made.

“We fully appreciate and understand the level of interest in the future of library services in Ulverston. It is one of our busiest and most popular libraries and I want to reassure you that, throughout this process, we have been committed to looking at opportunities to improve and enhance the library offer in Ulverston, whilst also thinking about the best long-term interests of The Coro and how any investment best supports the Ulverston community and the ambitions in the Ulverston Place Plan.’’

 

Answers to your frequently asked questions on the preferred option proposal - including details of estimated costs and background to the closure of the King's Road library building

 

Editor's Notes

Ulverston Place Plan

Ulverston Place Plan was drawn up by Ulverston’s Town Team, which is made up of representatives from Ulverston businesses, schools and community groups alongside the local councils.

The Place Plan vision was agreed following a community consultation, workshops and interviews in 2020, which asked local people and organisations for their views on opportunities to build local pride and confidence in the town and further develop Ulverston’s unique selling points.

A list of key projects was identified, including ambitions to:

  • Provide improved space for cultural activities
  • Protect Ulverston’s heritage buildings, specifically The Roxy and The Coronation Hall

The Place Plan states: “For Ulverston to really assume the mantle of a cultural hub it is important to have a high-quality destination area within the centre which can be a combination of the Coronation Hall, now named The Coro, the Roxy Cinema, the Laurel and Hardy Museum and potentially a public plaza.”