South Leeds: £70,000 project launched to restore Hunslet Library

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A £70,000 project has been launched to restore Hunslet Library to its former glory.

The 1930s art deco buidling, off Church Street near Morrisons supermarket, has fallen into disrepair and become open to the elements.

Now work is under way to repair the exterior of the library, before improvements are carried out inside.

City and Hunslet councillor Elizabeth Nash said: “Going into a library should be an education, but it should be an uplifting experience as well.

“At the moment when you go inside it’s quite dreary, but that’s all going to change.

“The work will restore it as much as possible to its former splendour.”

Opened in 1933, the library originally served as a community and job centre as well as a library.

In recent years its flat roof had started to leak and the window fixtures had begun to deteriorate.

About half the library – what used to be the children’s section – is now in use.

Plans are in the pipeline to lease the remainder to another organisation.

Work has already started on repairs to the roof. Other work will include redecorating, repairs to the windows and mullions and refurbishment of the library entrance.

Some of the original art deco furniture which is still in place will be restored.

Coun Nash said the library needed to be preserved.

She said: “It’s important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s part of our heritage – in my view it should be a listed building – and it should be kept for that reason alone.

“Secondly, it’s important that we keep our libraries open.”

The repairs – funded largely by money from Leeds City Council’s Inner South Area Committee – come about seven months after the council announced plans to close 13 other libraries across the city.

Allerton Bywater, Armley Heights, Belle Isle, Broad Lane, Swillington, Holbeck, Ireland Wood, Kirkstall, Lofthouse, Osmondthorpe, Richmond Hill, Swarcliffe and Swinnow were all to be replaced by a mobile service.

Coun Nash said: “I know the libraries service was looking to relocate Hunslet Library because the building was in such a state.

“But there wasn’t anywhere else and I’m glad it’s staying – it’s in the centre of the community and it’s well used.

“The libraries in Leeds that have been closed are those that aren’t well used.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Leeds City Council has made £70,000 available for repairs and refurbishment to Hunslet library. A significant amount of this funding has been provided by the local area committee.

“We anticipate that the work will be completed by the end of March.”