Library to open late and with just one floor in Newhaven

New Newhaven library site
New Newhaven library site

A councillor has criticised the late running and poor end result of the new library in Newhaven High Street, while nearby Seaford was given a £6m facility with a cafe and roof terrace.

Lewes District councillor Steve Saunders (L Dem, Newhaven Valley) said Newhaven Library would open in March 2015 on the ground floor while the first floor of the building was left empty.

The first floor was meant to be home to a community hub and he added an unsightly staircase was being left, despite residents asking for it to be removed.

East Sussex County Council said there had been one or two delays but that it was working to open as soon as possible, adding no decision had been taken about what could be based on the first floor.

In 2014 residents in Seaford were given a £6m new library, with cafe, roof terrace, day services for older people and supported living flats.

Cllr Saunders said: “Firstly, the building itself was supposed to be a multi-functional community hub with full access to three floors.

“This was then reduced to two, when the decision was taken to not build a second floor.

“What is in fact being finally delivered is a ground floor library only, with the first floor left an unfinished shell and with no lift access as per the original design to the front elevation. Secondly, the lift shaft to the rear of the building has apparently been filled with the asbestos that was stripped out of the internal parts, sealed and abandoned.

“Thirdly, we have been left with an ugly, glass-encased, carbuncle of a staircase attached to the front of the building that serves absolutely no purpose.”

He added: “If this is what they call regeneration and support for Newhaven and its residents, I dread to think what else they have in mind.”

A county council spokesman said: “There have been one or two delays throughout the project but we have been working as hard as we can to open as soon as possible.

“The new library will occupy the ground floor and no decision has been made at present regarding the future development of the first floor.

“The previous goods lift has been sealed due to the presence of asbestos. All other asbestos removal from the building has been completed in accordance with health and safety regulations. The development of the new library has been based on community need and the resources available.”