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Chinese Investment in Central Library

What is happening?

We have given the go ahead for our Chinese investment partner's UK company - Guodong UK Limited (Guodong) - to undertake feasibility studies to look into developing a 5-star hotel and improving the art gallery at the Central Library building on Surrey Street.

Read the cabinet paper (PDF, 161.75 KB) and our news release for more information. 

Look at the presentation from our public meetings about this and get involved.

Is the Central Library still open?

Yes. The Central Library building is open as usual and there are no plans to alter the opening times. 



How much will this cost local people?

There will be no cost to local people.  The feasibility studies will be funded by Guodong UK Limited.

Does the city need a 5-star hotel?

A 5-star hotel would bring with it economic benefits. It will attract visitors looking for a luxury experience on a par with any other major city. It will bring with it potential for conferencing, business and leisure.

Will it create more jobs?

If our investment partners do want to pursue the 5-star hotel, it will definitely create more jobs in the city centre. This is great for our economy and local people.


The Surrey Street building

What’s wrong with the Surrey Street building?

It provides inadequate access for disabled people and parents and children. It is an old building that requires £2.3m over the next 3 years on essential repairs. It would cost £30 million to bring up to the standards we would want to see from a cultural hub for our city. The current building, in its current state, limits our ambition for flexible space to accommodate new library, cultural and business related services.

Will the building be preserved?

This proposal at Surrey Street provides an opportunity for the city to retain, protect and enhance this important building. The building is listed.  Any building work will need to retain the unique features of the building. Proposed developments will be subject all the usual planning processes.

What will happen to the Graves Art Gallery?

If the Surrey Street building was to be considered as the location for a 5-star Hotel, plans would need to be explored for the continued and enhanced presence of the gallery in the building which ensure that the collection is maintained as a gallery with public access, at least equal to the public access afforded currently but ideally with extended hours.

Where can local theatre groups perform if we lose the Library Theatre?

There are no plans to move any of the groups who use the Library Theatre at the moment. We will be looking at performance and rehearsal spaces for theatre groups when plans for the building are certain.

What happens if the investment doesn’t go ahead, will you still move out of the current building and build a new library elsewhere in the city centre?

The current building is increasingly unaffordable, but if the investment doesn’t go ahead, it will remain property of the Council. At that point we will have to review all our options in terms of meeting our commitment to providing a new cultural hub for the city.

What is an ‘exclusivity agreement’?

An exclusivity agreement is an agreement between the Council and a third party investor or developer. It is entered into following a serious expression of interest in a property which requires further detailed investigation by both parties prior to contractual commitment to enter into a property transaction.

It would usually be used where there are a number of complex issues to be investigated.


Library, archives and information service

Why are we moving out of a building designed to house a library and allowing outside investors to come and build a hotel here?

The Central Library building is in a poor state of repair, with an estimated £30 million needed to bring it up to the standards of a cultural hub for our city. These plans have the potential to assure the beautiful, iconic building’s future in our city centre.

There are no firm plans to move the library at the moment. We are looking at allowing our investment partners to do some exploratory work with the Central Library building.

We will be using this 12 month period to scope out options for where we can locate the service if the deal with Guodong UK Limited does go ahead, talking to people in Sheffield and making sure that the library service of the future is the best it can be. We will always provide a library, archives and information service in the city centre.

When will all this happen and how long will I be without a library?

We will always provide a library, archives and information service in the city centre. Our investment partner's site surveys will take some time to complete. We don’t know the exact dates but we will make sure this is a transparent process and local people are fully informed.

Until we are sure we have a new location for the Central Library, the library theatre and the Graves Art Gallery, we won’t be moving any services.

What’s going to happen in the meantime? – I need access to computer, library service resources every day.

The Central Library is open; there are no changes to the services we offer there.  When we know if we will need to temporarily move the services, we will provide lots of information on location and what will be offered.

Will staff at the Central Library lose their jobs?

We don’t have any proposals to reduce the number of staff working in our Central Library services.

What will happen to all the books?

We don’t have any plans to move any books at the moment. We will look after all our collections very carefully, wherever the library services are based. We don’t have any firm plans about where the Central Library services will be moving to but when we do, all our collections will be factored into our plans.

  • Modified: Feb 13, 2017 11:50:15 AM