Plans approved to relocate Banbury Library to former M&S building at Castle Quay Shopping Centre

Plans involve main library being on first floor of former M&S building

Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 1:15 pm

Plans to relocate the Banbury Library to the former M&S building at Castle Quay Shopping Centre have been approved by Cherwell District Council.

The council approved change of use plans from commercial (retail) to local community and learning (public library). The plans include making modifications to the exterior of the building such as four new windows, painting the brick white on the ground level and spaces for rooflights (windows).

The planning permission was granted last week on April 20 for the redevelopment of the former M&S building at 36 Bridge St, Banbury.

Plans to relocate the Banbury Library to the former M&S building at Castle Quay Shopping Centre have been approved by Cherwell District Council.

The existing Banbury Library is located in a building in Marlborough Road, which is leased in by Oxfordshire County Council.

The relocation project’s plans claimed “the current building is in poor condition, and is widely considered unsuitable for the delivery of a modern library service.” There are also no toilet facilities at the current public library.

The plans said an opportunity was identified to relocate the library within the Castle Quay Shopping Centre, which is owned by Cherwell District Council.

The plans called the shopping centre “an excellent location for the library, with strong opportunities for shared footfall, giving the library a more visible presence in the pedestrian shopping area of the town. The landlord offered space split over two floors with a small area on the ground floor and a large open area on the first floor.”

The current location of the Banbury Library is in Marlborough Road, which is leased in by Oxfordshire County Council.

Banbury Town Council submitted a comment to the planning application online, which said: "Banbury Town Council support the proposal to move the library into a more central positionand are content that the external changes proposed will improve the building.”

One resident, who submitted a comment online, said: “I am very much in favour of moving the main library in Banbury.

"I agree that a town centre location and a modern building for the town's main library will be popular, much better used and cheaper to run. I hope consideration is given to extending the facilities at a new town centre library - including more space for books, more space for local history research, a cafe and improved town centre meeting and teaching space. It should be a lot easier to increase IT and digital facilities too.”

It’s the second change of use permission granted by the council for the former M&S building.

Cherwell District Council approved plans in December 2021 to refit part of the former M&S building into office space. The council approved plans for a change of use from class E retail to class E professional services.

A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council said: “There is strong interest from an office occupier, but this will only form part of the repurposing of the former M&S, together with retaining an element of retail.”

The former M&S building had very briefly been used as a Covid-19 testing site early in the autumn of 2021.

The Bridge Street Marks and Spencer store closed permanently in the summer of 2020.

The store was the first major store to come to Castle Shopping Centre, which was later extended to become Castle Quay, when Debenhams arrived in town.

It had been a town centre mainstay since 1982, opening in November of that year.