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Listed status could save ‘brutal’ Southend library building
12:00pm Monday 3rd September 2012 in Local News
A PROTEST group has applied for listed building status for Southend Central Library in a bid to protect it when the new library opens next year.
Campaign group Saxon King in Priory Park, known as Skipp, hopes the Seventies building, in Victoria Avenue, can be turned into an arts centre to house the Beecroft collection, when the new £27million library, the Forum, opens off Elmer Avenue in September next year.
Member Mark Sharp, who submitted the online application to English Heritage on Monday, said: “The building itself has architectural merit.
“It’s a brutalist structure, but a very good brutalist structure. Of all the Sixties and Seventies architecture in the town, it’s the one that works.”
Mr Sharp submitted a large number of photographs of the glass and concrete building, which was completed by borough architect R Horswell in 1974 and features an inner wall, clad in ceramic tiles, in an abstract design by Fritz Stellar.
The library is one of the most used in the country, but Southend Council plans to close it when the Forum, which will be shared by the University of Essex and South Essex College, opens.
The council, which is set to launch a cost-cutting review of its library services on Tuesday, is yet to decide a future for the present building.
Skipp has prepared a business plan suggesting it could be used to house exhibitions, film screenings and arts workshops. Heritage Minister John Penrose turned down an application to list the building last year, based on advice from English Heritage.
The organisation said it would look at the new application, but “significant new information” about the historical or architectural interest of the building would need to be produced.
A spokesman said: “Particularly careful selection is required for the listing of post-war buildings and after considering the case, the Central Library building did not meet the high architectural standard that is required when designating buildings from the period after 1945.”
Rob Tinlin , chief executive of Southend Council, said: “We will await the decision of the Secretary of State, although we are conscious of the fact a similar request was declined in September 2011.
“The council is considering future uses for the property once the new joint library, the Forum, is ready in 2013.”
Westcliff library, London Road, is already a listed building.
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