PICTURES of how the new £27million library for Southend town centre will look have been released.

The joint venture involving Southend Council, Essex University and South Essex College, called the Elmer Square development, will be built on the site of Farringdon car park.

Residents and traders are being asked for their views on the plans today and tomorrow, before a full planning application is submitted to Southend Council for consideration next month.

Simon Leftley, the council’s corporate director for adult and community services, said: “We want people to let us know what aspects about the existing library facilities they would like to see retained and to look at the plans for the new building.

“The new library will be a fantastic asset to the people of the town, a place where people of all ages can go to study, learn, research and take part in a whole multitude of activities.”

The four-storey building will feature a new library, which the council would be responsible for running, to replace the existing one in Victoria Avenue.

It will also provide:

* A new home for the Focal Point Gallery

* A cafe

* A lecture theatre

* A public square outside

* Meeting/teaching rooms

* A higher education centre.

The council will stump up £12.5m of the cost, the university £10.4m and the college £4m.

Construction work is expected to begin early next year and be finished by autumn 2013.

Architects ADP won the contract to design the new building last November and the main contractors are expected to be announced in January next year.

Today, the plans will be on display at the Elmer Suite in the University of Essex’s Southend Campus, Elmer Approach, from 9am until 7pm, and tomorrow, at Southend Central Library, Victoria Avenue, from 9am until 5pm.

Dr Tony Rich, the university’s registrar and secretary, said: “This is a vital development to enable the university to provide the best possible learning facilities.”

Jan Hodges, South Essex College principal and chief executive, said: “Our future students will benefit immensely from these facilities.”