Counselors have agreed to go out to market to bring the former Hyde Library building ‘back to life’ as they revealed the cause of a recent fire at the historic site.
Tameside’s cabinet has approved plans to find a new use for the iconic Union Street building, which opened in 1899, but has been standing empty since the library service was moved into the town hall in 2015.
Emergency crews were called to tackle a fire at the old library on Monday, March 21, with three fire engines from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue in attendance. The meeting of executive cabinet this week was told that the fire was started by people breaking into the building.
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Council leader Brenda Warrington said: “The incident that happened Monday evening is a minor incident caused by youths that accessed the building illegally and caused a small fire.” Gregg Stott, Tameside’s assistant director for investment, development and housing, added: “Unfortunately youths broke into the building but it was caught early enough.”
Under the proposals agreed by cabinet, the building, including adjoining and the Union Street car park, is to be marketed by way of informal tender for new uses, which could include becoming an ‘extra care’ facility. However the council states it would consider offers for ‘any uses which the market thinks is viable’, which could range from a community use, business, education or religious purposes.
But the report says the authority would stipulate that if a scheme which was granted permission was not completed in 36 months, the council would have the right to ‘re-acquire the property at the original purchase price’. Councilor Oliver Ryan, cabinet member for finance and economic growth said: “I think people should see it as a positive step for the next phase of development for the Union Street building in Hyde.
“It’s a huge part of Hyde’s heritage and a really important building to the council, the councilors of Hyde, the people of Hyde, the businesses of Hyde and everybody who uses Hyde town center. “It is one of the jewels in the crown of Hyde and we need to make sure it’s got a sustainable future going forward.
“This paper allows us to go out to market and tell people, what are the options that could potentially come forward for this site?”
He added: “We’re really clear that we want to see the facade of the building kept at the front. Any option that needs to come forward needs to take in the facade of the building, so complete is not an option.
“But partial demolition of the back of the building perhaps or building out into a future care facility or other facility that could be used is on the table if people want to come forward with that.
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We’re keeping our ear to the ground in terms of grants that might be available either through the brownfield homes fund or other funds that might be available through Greater Manchester. But we need to be really clear that this is absolutely not as has been leveled at the council before, nobody is washing their hands of this building. This is us taking the next step along the road to bringing it back to life. ”
Director of place, Ian Saxon added: “That site needs to move forward, it can not stay as it is and we need to look at what options are there to serve the needs of the community and this organization.”