Getting the green light: The sustainable redevelopment of the British Library has been granted a building permit by Leeds City Council

On December 23, Leeds City Council granted a building permit for the large-scale redevelopment of the British Library site in Boston Spa in West Yorkshire.

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A major construction project will turn the 44-acre site – originally a WWII arms factory and, for the past six decades, the northern headquarters of the UK’s National Library – into an archive modern capable of storing its growing collection for decades to come.

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A major construction project will transform the 44-acre site – originally a WWII weapons factory. Photo: Carmody Groarke

The government-funded £ 95million redevelopment will create much-needed storage capacity, with further work going into improving facilities for staff and visitors and making significant improvements to the site’s environmental sustainability.

Phil Spence, COO of the British Library, said: “We are delighted that Leeds City Council has approved our plans to redevelop our site in Boston Spa to accommodate the UK’s growing National Collection and we build on our commitment to shaping a climate future.

“A national library is, by its very nature, a long-term investment and an expression of hope for the future, so it is essential that sustainability is at the heart of this development. It marks a major step towards transforming our presence in the north of England and creating a sustainable British Library for all ”.

The library also received a grant from the Public Sector Decarbonization Program (PSDS). The additional £ 8.5million funding means a range of energy saving initiatives are already in place at the Boston Spa site, including the installation of:

Around 730 solar panels providing a minimum of 225 MWh per year

A new ground source heat pump system, which will help reduce the library’s reliance on fossil fuels and generate 1 MW of energy, the equivalent of powering 650 average homes

Additional smart meters, better insulation and replacement of low-energy fluorescent lamps in existing buildings

As part of the new development, 220 km of additional storage space will be created in a new automated high-density storage building that will have the highest level of airtightness possible, creating a low-consumption passive archive. ‘energy.

When complete, visitors to the library’s Boston Spa site will be able to see the inner workings of the spectacular storage facility through a new public viewing gallery.

Councilor James Lewis, Head of Leeds City Council, said: city is a perfect home for their unrivaled collection.

“As the British Library’s plans for temple work also progress, it is clear that a long-term, sustainable vision of their presence in Leeds is taking shape, which will play a huge role in continually building their reputation. growing the city as a cultural center of excellence and innovation and supporting quality jobs in the city.

The redevelopment will support and enable the library’s equally ambitious plans for a major new public center at Temple Works in Leeds city center.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “I am delighted that the British Library’s planned development of sustainable storage facilities at Boston Spa has been given the green light. Thanks to the government’s investment, this state-of-the-art facility will help the British Library house its growing collection, expand its presence in the north and move its ambition closer to a public site in central Leeds. “

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