MAJOR plans to build a new library and 65 new homes are set to get the green light as they “positively contribute” to Wickford’s regeneration.

The ambitious bid to demolish the current library and community centre will be voted on next week, with councillors considering whether a five storey replacement is suitable, consisting of a host of flats, a new library, and a “flexible” ground floor unit – set to become a shop.

The plans, centring on Market Road, have been drawn up with Essex County Council support, despite county hall bosses recently looking to close up to 60 per cent of libraries in the county.

Plans to close libraries have now been withdrawn, but the future strategy is unclear, although the county council previously insisted the plans for Wickford were totally separate to its library-closure plan.

Wickford councillor Malcolm Buckley admitted he was not surprised that the “promising” plans were set for approval.

He said: “The old library building is quite ramshackled, you could say, I would say it is more like a portacabin in all honesty.

“It must date back to the 60s, I remember using it as a school child so it is due a bit of an upgrade.”

Mr Buckley insisted that Wickford was never in the library closure debate because it has always been popular and has a high “book check out rate”.

He added that the developers had been positive in communication, highlighting a successful consultation and the fact they took on board his suggestion that the ground floor unit should be considered for retail.

Mr Buckley added: “The usage of libraries has changed drastically, we are no longer using them to read an encyclopedia to help with our homework, but they are still important.

“There will be internet access, and the libraries can be used as meeting places, with the likes of parent and toddler groups.

The council will now vote on the plans on Tuesday night.

The council officer’s recommendation read: “The proposed development would secure a new replacement library and new residential development within Wickford town centre which would improve the housing stock of the borough, contribute towards the council’s shortfall in its five year housing land supply and provide a modern accessible new library which would positively contribute towards the regeneration of Wickford.”