(Re)making Maindee Library
07/01/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community
Maindee Library has been open to the public and community-run since October 31st 2015. This blog article takes you through a year of planning the future of this community building.
As background, the library shut its doors for a few months in summer 2015 after the Council decided to stop funding many of Newport's community libraries. However, the Council agreed that Maindee Unlimited could have use of the building; the library was taken over by the volunteers and it became the base for the Finding Maindee art project in January 2016.
Meanwhile, in the background the trustees of Maindee Unlimited were working on a plan to secure a longer-term future for the building by applying to be part of the Big Lottery Fund's community asset transfer CAT2 community building programme. The pursuit of the community asset transfer led to plans being developed for a refurbished library and proposals for the traingular-shaped outdoor space on Livingstone Place.The local planning authrority granted permission in May and then we waited for the funding decision from the Big Lottery Fund.
The rest of this article explains how a year of trying different approaches has led to one that we hope will work...
Finding Maindee and Community Asset Transfer - 2015/2016
The Finding Maindee project, funded through the Arts Council of Wales 'Ideas: People: Places' (IPP) programme, had always wanted to find a locally-based space for indoor art. The prospect of using library was not on the agenda when the IPP bid was prepared in 2014. However, fast forward to summer 2015 and it became clear that use of the library building was a great opportunity to host workshops, meetings and also for exhibitons.
Moreover, there was a chance to apply to the Big Lottery Fund for some of the Community Asset Transfer [called CAT2] money announced in May 2015. The Big Lottery Fund's aspirations for CAT2 seemed very relevant to Maindee Library:
"We believe the ownership of community assets can encourage people to become more actively involved in their communities, influence what happens and take part in decisions."
A project team was formed by MU to bring the library - and the outdoor toilets opposite on Livingstone Place - into long term community ownership. An application was made for development funding: it was successful and MU were then able to appoint a professional design team to develop the project proposal.
Waiting for the decision during summer 2016
Niall helped us to consider the practicalities of developing both the indoor space [library] and the outdoor space [Livingstone Place] - suggesting phases and some interesting temporary uses of space. He also helped us to see how the community could get involved in decisions - as could artists. The work helped to see that a creative method could be applied - tapping into the work that Mr & Mrs Clark had just tried on Livingstone Place by inviting the neighbours around to paint.
And the Big Lottery decision...
- Maindee would not receive a financial investment of approximately £1m
- The business case agreed by the Council [based on the Big Lottery investment] would need to be reviewed
- The chance to transform the The Triangle at Livingstone Place [new toilets and a large event / market space] would no longer be possible
- In the short term the potential for extra paid staff and business development at the library would no longer possible
On the other side, this situation provided opportunities such as:
- We can work better with the library volunteers and people who have a stake in the library
- We can look at more simple approaches to The Triangle at Livingstone Place - tapping in to the sort of energy found by inviting the neighbours
- MU can start to spend the money allocated from the Arts Council of Wales for outdoor spaces
Now we are about to start planning...
Newport Council library closures 2015
Big Lottery Fund's CAT2 community building programme
Huw Meredydd Owen from V&O
Architect Niall Maxwell
- Festival 2021 - April news - 29/04/2021
- Maindee Triangle - 13/04/2021
- Festival 2021 - March news - 16/03/2021
- Maindee Triangle - 14/02/2021
- Greening Maindee - 14/02/2021
- Greening Maindee - 05/02/2021
- Square Knitters - 30/01/2021
- Greening Maindee - 24/01/2021
- Maindee Triangle - What is coming to the Triangle - 13/01/2021
- Vacancy “Food For Life” Community Engagement Officer - 12/02/2020