An important scheme to build a new library in Newhaven has been given the green light by Lewes District Council planners.
East Sussex County Council said it expected work to start on the £1.6m development soon, although explained it was not possible to give an exact start date at this stage.
It is hoped the library will be finished by the end of 2013 contributing towards the regeneration of the town centre, which has struggled with high shop vacancy rates during the recession.
District councillor Rod Main (Newhaven , Denton and Meeching, L.Dem) said: “It’s been a long time coming and various proposals have come and gone.
“Now, it would seem things have picked up pace a bit and we can look forward to a new library by the end of the year.
“I’m sure this will be welcomed by all and maybe the first visual sign of something positive happening in the town centre.”
District councillor Carla Butler (Newhaven, Denton and Meeching, L.Dem), who is also a county coucillor, added: “I’m very pleased that the library is still planned for Newhaven.
“It is long awaited and I hope that the residents will be able to enjoy their facilities at the end of this year. It is good news.”
The library will move from its existing home in the High Street up the road to a larger site in the former M&Co. premises at 36, High Street on the ground floor.
The district council approved plans to change the use of the building and carry out improvements.
These will include a new roof, altered entrance arrangements, signs and lighting on the High Street facade and a new entrance and glazing on North Lane.
The library will be larger with better facilities, enabling a wider range of community activities and events to be held.
It will mean residents have enhanced opportuities to improve literacy, numeracy and computer skills, all at a convenient High Street location.
The county council is now working with builders Mansell Construction to complete plans for the library.
It wants to hear from residents about what they would like to have in their new library.
County council lead member for community services Chris Dowling added: “The new library is another part of the council’s programme to enhance and improve our libraries service.
“It will allow us to provide a better service to residents in a welcoming, modern environment right in the heart of Newhaven.
“We know from the feedback we have received from the public that this is an eagerly-awaited development which will help to regenerate this part of the town centre, and receiving planning permission is an important step forward.
“We’d like to reassure residents that plans are progressing fast behind the scenes and we are very much looking forward to the new library opening its doors for the first time.”
Phase two of the devlopment involves working with potential partners to create a community hub for Newhaven on the first floor of the building.