Your Questions Answered

On this page you will find answers to many common questions. We will be updating this page during the consultation to reflect questions we receive.

Library Provision

How many books can be stored on the shelves of the new library? Or how many metres of shelving for books will there be in the new library versus the old library?

The useable floor space will be comparable to the current library. The exact total length of shelving is not set yet, as the library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works best for users.

For reference the headline figures for the current library are 18,411 for adult books and 12,228 children’s books (this is fiction and non-fiction).  These numbers relate to ‘total holdings’ and do not consider items in circulation i.e. stock out on loan.  The total figure could be reduced by approx. 20% at any given time. 

Where are computer terminals to be located and are the same number guaranteed?

The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users.  This is yet to be determined. The allocated areas on the plans in the public domain are indicative, we are keen to hear the views of the community on the allocation and use of space.

What facilities will be available during the construction period?

We are committed to providing temporary alternative library provision during construction. Any location would provide the same services as are available at Loughton Library presently.

We are currently considering a number of sites within Loughton, including vacant retail units in the High Street and nearby libraries. We welcome views of the community on the preferred location and key amenities at or close to any temporary such as parking, transport etc. to enable us to select the most appropriate facility.

How will you maintain the safety of the proposed outside space?

The proposed outside space would be used for supervised parent and child activities, group learning and other activities. There would always be a risk assessment for any outdoor events which would also consider any safeguarding issues. We are happy to take feedback on this.

Outside library opening hours, the outdoor space would be used as private amenity space for residents of the new homes. It would be secured by security gates accessible only to residents.

Can ECC guarantee a library in Loughton for the foreseeable future?

Cllr Bentley, leader of Essex County Council has recently confirmed that there will be no library closures by the Council, and this provides a secure foundation for the enhancement and development of the service.

The new library will continue to provide a wide range of quality books and resources, with the aim of creating a vibrant hub for Loughton that will be valued and utilised now, and in the future.  We intend to work with local schools and community groups to ensure that the space meets the needs of residents.

Where is the front desk of the library? And the public noticeboards?

The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users.

Who will use the meeting room and how will the revenue from its hire be used?

The meeting room will be used by library staff and will also be available for hire. The detail of how the revenue will be used will need to be confirmed at the point of a final decision being put to Councillors.

Is there somewhere to store chairs for events (e.g., book readings, concerts)?

There is a library storage area designed in consultation with the library service. The library will have a flexible set up, library chairs will be able to be moved for events.

How has the building been designed to offer flexibility for use such as events, concerts, poetry readings etc.?

The new library has been designed as a flexible space to support the variety of uses the library service anticipate. It will include a large open-plan area which can be used for a range of events. Among library features, the building will be sufficiently soundproofed.

The community space and meeting rooms have been designed to feature its own reception desk, toilets and be secured from the main library by a security shutter out of hours, this allows use of the space by individuals and groups outside of the main opening hours without requiring library staff to be on site, providing flexible uses for a wider range of events than the current library.

What is the proposed size of the children’s library in the new library?

The exact size is yet to be set, but will be determined by the library service based on their experience of what works for users. Our intention is that this space is at least the same size as the current area.

The new library is designed to be a more flexible rather than the current fixed space to cater for the various groups and individual users, this will allow internal configurations to change based on the groups or users in the library on a particular day or period.

Has provision been made in the new library for all current tenants?

In preparing the designs for the new library we have worked with all current tenants to understand their plans and future space requirements.

Loughton Town Council and the National Jazz Archive have signaled their intention to remain based in the library and the proposed design provides them with at least 100% of the office space they currently are allocated.

Citizens Advice have reviewed their operations following the covid-19 pandemic and elected not to continue as a tenant in the new library and therefore have not been allocated space in the proposed designs. The range of meeting rooms and community spaces in the new library will however provide flexible accommodation for Citizens Advice should this be required in future.

Will groups currently using the library and community space, for example reading groups, youth groups continue to be able to do so in future?

In line with the current practice, the library and community space will remain available for hire by groups or organizations. The new library is designed to offer a more flexible space which can be used by a range of groups for different events and sessions.

Building design

How does the space of the new library compare to the current building?

The Net Internal Area of the current building is 1790 SQM. The includes useable floorspace, including space used by community & tenants of 1220 SQM. Within this space allocated for lending and library function is 846 SQM, 280M2 is currently unused as it is inaccessible by people with disabilities due to no operating lift.

The new library will be set across a larger single-floor accessible footprint with a public ally accessible space of 675sqm, equating to 80% of the current library floorspace. A new 100sqm outdoor learning and activity space with stepped seating, linked directly to the library will also be provided and when in use will provide a total useable library space of 775sqm, equivalent to 92% of current floorspace.

The total publicly accessible area will total 1078 SQM, 88.4% of the current building total. Significant efficiencies have been made in reducing wasted circulation spaces within the library. Currently the library includes 223 sqm of circulation space, this will be reduced to just 22S sqm through full utilisation of all open plan space available.

There is proposed to be a reduction in back office space, including storage space to 173m. We are working with the library service and tenants of the building to confirm future storage requirements and explore how these can be accommodated.

The way in which the library service operates is significantly different to when the current building was designed and there is no longer need for such a large storage area as books are rotated regularly with users of the service also able to order books for delivery to the library.

What is the height of the ceiling in the new library? How does that compare with the current ceiling height?

Currently we are working with a 3.2 m floor to ceiling height.

This may be to be adjusted slightly as we complete the Technical Design Stage.

What is the overall height of the building? How does that compare with buildings in the surrounding area?

The estimated building height is 19.20m from external ground level 39.0 AOD. This is subject to final design work and will be confirmed in the planning application when submitted.

For comparison the existing building height is 10.24m.

In the design process we have considered the impact of the building on the local area, considering the topography and sightlines with surrounding buildings and open space as well as the context of the proposed building.

It is proposed that the East elevation does not include a third or fourth residential floor. The third and fourth residential floors on the North and West elevations are also proposed to be less dense and stepped-back from the main elevation to break up the massing of the building and reduce any impacts on the surrounding landscape.

We have undertaken extensive engagement throughout the design process with Epping Forest District Council planners who have indicated that the elevation proposals are acceptable.

What is the heating system for each part of the building?

The library and residential units will be heated by air source heat pumps.

What provisions have been made to ensure the building is accessible?

Essex Housing is committed to the highest possible level of accessibility. The library building has been designed to accommodate level access throughout. The public toilets in the library will be fully accessible.

Further detail in connection with other impairments (such as visual) will be developed further down the line as part of the design process.

Residential accommodation will be accessed via a lift.

What is the life expectancy of the new building? Who will pay for the building's maintenance, such as the flat roof?

The building will be constructed with robust methods of construction. A building which deploys the technology and methods that the design team is currently considering has the potential to have a life which is 60yrs+ subject to the right maintenance regime.

The maintenance of the building will be paid for via a service charge. The detail of this is to be determined at the appropriate stage and before a final decision to proceed is taken.

How many one-bedroom flats and how many two bedroomed flats are planned? Will these flats be sold or rented out?

The proposal is for 32 two-bedroom flats and six one-bedroom flats.

These could be sold or rented, the detail of this will be confirmed by the Council based on a commercial evaluation of the scheme if and when planning permission is secured.

Will private parking be provided for library staff and residents of the apartments?

Library staff will not have allocated parking. This is consistent with the majority of libraries across the county. There is a large public car park to the rear of the library, currently no staff parking is provided.

We are exploring options to provide resident parking in the development, the number of spaces is yet to be determined and will be subject to discussions with Epping Forest District Council planners and compliant with the SAC policy.

The scheme includes a basement which will have the capacity to provide parking for residents. The basement is accessed via Traps Hill utilising the existing vehicular access point to ensure clear visibility. All spaces will have access to an electric changing point.

We are keen to ensure the development is sustainable and will seek to encourage residents to walk, cycle or car share. There are excellent public transport links to this location from nearby Loughton High Street as well as Underground Links to London and we shall highlight these points in scheme marketing literature and homeowner information packs to encourage sustainable transport choices.

Will cycle Parking be available for residents?

In addition to car parking, residents will also be provided with cycle parking spaces to reduce car usage for short trips and encourage sustainability in the development.

How sustainable / low carbon will the development be?

We propose that the new building will have modern thermal insulation, energy efficient glazing and will use air source heat pumps for heating. We are also looking at using LED lighting throughout the new library with absence and presence detection controls and photo-voltaic modules to assist the air source heat pumps for energy and carbon emission.

How will the outdoor learning and activity space be used?

Whilst the detailed use of the space will be subject to discussions and agreement between the Library service and managing agent at the time of scheme completion it is anticipated that the outdoor learning and activity space will be shared between the library, community, and residents of the development.

At all times the library is open the area will be available for casual use by the community and library users as well as booking by groups or events. Outside of library hours the space will also be bookable for events and remain available for use by residents of the development as a private amenity space, accessed through secured gates to prevent instances of anti-social behavior.

We believe this arrangement will create a dynamic space in which different parts of the local community can connect with each other and the events delivered in the space.

How many residents will live in the apartments and has the impact on local services been considered?

The development will provide up to 32 two-bedroom and six one-bedroom flats. The site is allocated for residential development in the Epping Forest District Council local plan, during the process the impact on local services of development.

In determining the planning application, the Planning Authority will engage with statutory consultee’s who will be able to review the proposals and identify any considerations or mitigations required because of the development.

Will recycled materials be used in construction?

Wherever possible we will endeavor to ensure that recycled materials are used in the construction of the new building. The specification will be agreed as part of the final design process. We will also seek to ensure that wherever possible materials with low embodied energy are used.

Will the children’s playground need to be closed during construction?

We will ensure that disruption to any areas outside the site are limited as far as possible during demolition and construction.

We intend that public spaces around the site will remain open for the duration of the works however there may be occasions where it is necessary to adjust access for short periods of time to ensure the safety of the public. During development of the construction programme we will identify when this may be necessary and provide the community with notification and proposed mitigations well in advance of the works.

How will the building be designed to ensure the there is no disturbance or damage caused to the library as a result of the residential dwellings above, for example noise or damage to the library from leaks in a residential dwelling?

Levels of sound proofing will fully comply with the appropriate building regulations.

We recognise the risks posed from residential dwellings above a library and other civic spaces. To mitigate the risk of leaks or water egress we will be investigating the use of leak detection systems with automatic shut-off valves to minimise the effects of any significant leaks.

How will you ensure the safety and security of the underground car park?

We recognize the potential anti-social behavior risks associated with underground car parks.

Vehicle access from Traps Hill will be fitted with a shutter operatable only by authorized users of the car park.

Access to the underground car park will be via private access doors again with access only permitted to authorized users of the car park.

What is the impact on traffic from the development?

We are aware of the impact of vehicle movements on the Special Area of Conservation in Loughton and are seeking to reduce the impact from the development on the area as far as possible. We are working with a traffic consultant as part of the design of the project to identify the number of vehicle trips in comparison to the current library and any mitigations that may be required. This work will be completed as part of the final design process and submitted with the planning application.

We are keen to promote environmental sustainability in this development and will seek to encourage residents to walk, cycle or car share. There are excellent public transport links to this location from nearby Loughton High Street as well as Underground links to London. These transport links will be highlighted in any marketing literature and homeowner information packs to encourage sustainable transport choices

Landscape

How many of the current tree’s will be included in the scheme and how much green space will be lost through the development.

The project design team includes an arboricultural consultant to ensure that the final design is sympathetic to the existing tree cover surrounding the building. The majority of existing mature tree’s, including the oak tree in the front of the library will be safeguarded and incorporated into the final building design.

A detailed Arboricultural Impact Assessment will be submitted with any future planning application.

What landscaping and public realm design will you incorporate in the scheme.

As a key part of our vision for the setting of the new Loughton Library, our proposals include a comprehensive landscaping plan to improve the public realm and approach to the library from Traps Hill.

The proposed scheme incorporates a substantial landscape proposal that includes the following:

  • Re-landscaping of the existing area to the West of the building to create an attractive access route from Traps Hill to the library entrance by relocating existing bins, parking spaces and public WC as well as providing a new footpath and soft landscaping.
  • Incorporation of a dynamic courtyard area in the heart of the development, centred around the existing oak tree to provide an outdoor learning area with stepped seating allowing for flexibility of use by the library, for public events and as residential amenity space.
  • Creation of a new footpath along the Eastern side of the building; connecting the library to the northern section of Traps Hill, a proposed new memorial, and the existing playground.

Timeline

What is your timeline for this project and how long will construction take?

The timeline is dependent on the outcome of the public consultation, further discussion with planners and the design solutions required in response.

Indicatively we can advise that our next steps would be to submit for planning in Autumn 2021.

If a planning application were approved in early 2022, a detailed decision including technical plans, detailed financial appraisals and construction timelines would be put to Councillors early in spring / summer 2022

If the scheme were approved, demolition and construction would be for a period of 20 months. This is all subject to change, as is the nature of development schemes.

Financials

How much will this scheme cost taxpayers?

The scheme will be nil cost to taxpayers.  The team will need to demonstrate that the development can pay for itself through the sale or rental of the apartments and commercial space prior to agreement of a business case by Essex County Council.

How much is the County Council and its developer going to make from this?

The development is designed so that the residential element pays for the upgrade of the library. It is unlikely that there will be any surplus but if there was, this would be invested in ECC services, saving taxpayers money. Financial appraisals are commercially sensitive and therefore cannot be published.

Why can’t the current building just be upgraded?

The current building was designed and built in the 1970s and needs significant repair and upgrade to ensure it remains fit for purpose. It is at the end of its natural design life.

This redevelopment plan is all about making best use of the available space at the site to improve and future proof the service to the community for generations to come.

The current library is made up of a number of smaller disconnected spaces that would require significant redevelopment and expense in order to deliver the flexible open-plan bright and modern library that is proposed in this project.

This is a unique opportunity to replace the current structure with a modern and improved library, at no extra cost to the taxpayer, as it would be funded by a modest residential development above

Will ECC own the new building and land? Or will ECC be leasing it back from the developer?

It is proposed that Essex Housing will develop the site. Essex Housing are ECC’s in house developer.

In preparing the financial appraisal of the scheme all options will be considered to ensure an optimal financial and operational arrangement can be identified for the future management of the development however the current proposal is that Essex County Council retain ownership of the freehold of the land used for construction of the new library and residential dwellings.

Will ECC use revenue from the flats and commercial unit to support continued operation of a directly run ECC library once the redevelopment has been completed?

The development of the library will be funded by the sale or rental of the apartments above.  Any revenue raised above this cost will not be ringfenced specifically but would fund the library service or other ECC services.

Who will use the meeting room and how will the revenue from its hire be used?

The meeting room will be used by library staff and will also be available for hire. The detail of how the revenue will be used will need to be confirmed at the point of a final decision being put to Councillors.

Why are apartments being developed and how does the redevelopment of the library and new homes help the local economy?

Apartments are being developed as part of this scheme to enable Essex County Council to deliver a significantly enhanced library at no cost to the tax-payer.

The redevelopment of Loughton Library and development of 38 apartments will positively impact the local economy and community both directly and indirectly in a variety of ways.

The demolition and construction of the scheme will create employment in the local area including apprenticeships. The House Building Federation (HBF) Housing Calculator estimates that 117 jobs will be created by the development of 38 homes. There will be an indirect impact on local suppliers and trades who will supplier materials and labour as part of construction.

Following completion of construction both the library and apartments will provide an increase in footfall, boosting trade for local businesses which again will support the growth of the local economy.

Will Essex County Council still maintain ownership of the land?

It is proposed that Essex Housing will develop the site. Essex Housing are ECC’s in house developer.

In preparing the financial appraisal of the scheme all options will be considered to ensure an optimal financial and operational arrangement can be identified for the future management of the development however the current proposal is that Essex County Council retain ownership of the freehold of the land used for construction of the new library and residential dwellings.

Planning

Is it true that the scheme will be seeking planning permission from ECC?

Yes, we have been advised by our legal team that we should seek planning permission from Essex County Council.  However, we have throughout our design process engaged with both Brentwood Borough Council and Essex County Council planners.

Consultation

How can members of the public find out more about the design proposals?

The scheme website (www.loughtonlibrary.co.uk) provides an opportunity to view CGI’s of the scheme, proposed floorspace layouts and review.

Public exhibition events will also take place on Thursday 22nd July 15:00 – 19:00  and Saturday 24th July 11:00 – 14:00 in the space at Loughton library. These events will provide an opportunity to talk to the design team and review the proposals in more detail.

To ensure the events remain covid-secure please book your place via email loughtonlibrary@secnewgate.co.uk or telephone 0800 0837 992

How can I provide feedback on the proposals?

Public consultation provides an opportunity for public and stakeholders to review proposals and provide further feedback, observation and challenge. Feedback will be welcomed via freepost, free phone, email and in person.

Feedback survey on our website: https://www.loughtonlibrary.co.uk/feedback-form

Email: loughtonlibrary@secnewgate.co.uk

Telephone: 0800 0837 992

Freepost: FREEPOST RTRB-LUUJ-AGBY, c/o SEC Newgate UK, Sky Light City Tower, 50 Basinghall Street, London EC2V 5DE

All questions relating the design proposals will be reviewed and responded to with a Q&A published online at the end of the consultation.

Will my comments be taken on board?

Feedback from stakeholders has been critical in shaping the designs you have seen – significant feedback has already been provided and incorporated as far as practicable, recognizing planning constraints and the need for the scheme to be financially viable to deliver.

Frequent questions relating the design proposals will be included in an updated Q&A published online following the consultation.

We will also provide a report following the consultation, summarising the feedback received, explaining what has been changed and explaining where changes have not been made.

Contact Us
loughtonlibrary@secnewgate.co.uk
0800 0837 992
Address
FREEPOST RTRB-LUUJ-AGBY,
c/o SEC Newgate UK,
Sky Light City Tower,
50 Basinghall Street,
London EC2V 5DE