Your questions answered

Library provision

How many computers for public use? Will there be a photocopier?

The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users. This is yet to be determined but the floor space is larger than the existing library. The allocated areas on the plans in the public domain are indicative, we are keen to hear the views of the community.

Will book groups and knitting groups have to pay to use the meeting room?

The library will make arrangements at their discretion but in principle yes there will be a small charge for the use of the meeting room.

How many books can be stored on the shelves of the new library? (current building is designed for 16,000 books). Or how many metres of shelving for books will there be in the new library versus the old library?

The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users. This is yet to be determined but the floor space is larger than the existing library.

Where will the terracotta plaque be placed and where will the art exhibition space be?

The plaque will be suitably and prominently sited, but such locations are yet to be determined. The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users.

Are there toilets provided for public use?


Is there a kitchen facility for the library staff?


How have the library service been involved in development of this?

The library service has been consulted on their needs from the outset and have regularly spoken directly with our architect to ensure these needs have been met. Staff based in the current library building were briefed and consulted in advance of designs being shared with the public and have been encouraged to continue to share their feedback.

Could you explain the arrangement re the relocation of the library during construction?

While there are several stages to complete prior to construction commencing, we are committed to providing temporary alternative library provision during construction. This site would provide the same services as are available at all ECC library sites. We are currently considering Bishops Hill Adult Community Learning Centre for this temporary service and would be interested in your views on this. The provision would be in one of the secondary buildings which would be adapted to meet library service requirements.

Will there be transport to the Bishops Hill site?

The team will look into community transport options for library users.

Can you reassure us that if library user numbers drop whilst it is relocated at Bishops Hill this will not be used as evidence to a lack of demand? Is funding the for library guaranteed for the future?

We can’t predict the future use of libraries or how the way in which users use them will change. But this potential delivery of a brand new library should be taken as a clear indication that we are committed to the future of Shenfield Library.

Usage of this library while social distancing and restrictions have been and are in place will not be used to make future judgements on usage. Usage while the site is temporary and at a different site would only be looked at in conjunction with knowledge that this is an unusual period and that the change in location will have some impact on usage, although we would hope that all users would continue to use and benefit from the library during this time.

Will there still be paid and permanent members of library staff?


Does the viability of the library depend on the adjoining shop paying rent?

No, the library will remain regardless of whether the commercial space is in use.

How does the space for the library compare to the existing?

The current public library space is 281.6 m2. The proposed public library space is 286.3 m2.

What’s the size of the children’s section today compared with the plan?

The library has been designed as a flexible space to support the variety of uses the library service anticipate. The library service will determine the internal layout and facilities for the library based on their experience of what works for users. This is yet to be determined but the floor space is larger than the existing library.

Will the meeting room be available to hire by anyone?


Future ownership

Will ECC own the new building and land? Or will ECC be leasing it back from the developer?

It is proposed that Essex Housing will develop the site. Essex Housing is ECC’s in house developer. The freehold of the building and the library will be retained by the ECC group – either directly through ECC or via Essex Housing.

Residential element

Will any of the flats be designated as affordable housing?

This scheme is designed to provide a brand-new library and money raised by the sale or rental of the apartments will be used to pay for the development. Any surplus will be reinvested in ECC services. If providing affordable housing the development would become financially unviable.

How many one-bedroom flats and how many two bedroomed flats are planned? Will these flats be sold or rented out?

The proposal is for eight two-bedroom flats and two one-bedroom flats. These could be sold or rented. The detail of this will need to be confirmed at the point of a final decision being put to Essex County Councillors.

Will there be electrical charging points in the parking spaces for the flats?

Yes. All spaces will have access to an electric charging point.

Will residents be able to put up satellite dishes?

We are proposing to provide a Landlord controlled Integrated Reception Signal (IRS) TV Aerial System to the development. This type of system provides a common TV Aerial array at roof level for distribution to each of the individual residential units. The system will provide Terrestrial TV and Sky Q signals to the various outlets within each unit. This will negate the need for residents to introduce individual TV Aerial array (Sky dishes, etc) onto the building.


How many car parking spaces are proposed and is this sufficient?

Following advice gathered from planners and property valuers, the design proposes one car parking space per apartment plus a loading bay for use by the library service. Library staff will not have allocated parking. This is consistent with the majority of libraries across the county. The loading bay will not be required for deliveries for the majority of library opening hours, at these times the library service will be able to use the space at their discretion. There will be no be spaces available for library users, again this is consistent with many libraries across the county. There is a public car park on Friars Avenue, as well as excellent public transport links to this location.

Where would Amazon, etc. stop to deliver to the existing flats?

There is space within the parking area for delivery vehicles to pull in if required. Discussions with Highways will continue in the lead up to submitting a planning application but as yet they have not raised concerns. We will consider having a barrier intercom system so that delivery drivers could buzz flats when they arrive.

Is there no requirement to provide a disabled parking space?

We do not believe there is a requirement for disabled parking spaces. The requirement is normally a % of public spaces but we will not be providing any public spaces on site. We will be consulting further with the planners following the consultation and will raise this specifically.

Commercial space

What could the commercial unit be?

We believe there are a variety of options that will raise revenue for the County Council while complimenting the library. Our market research indicates the space could suit a range of potential retail, café, commercial or community uses. The link to the library is proposed to be flexible so could be closed off or left open.


What is your timeline for this project and how long will construction take?

The timeline is dependent on the outcome of the public consultation, further discussion with planners and the design solutions required in response. Indicatively our next steps would be to review consultation feedback, update our design plans, speak to planners early in the new year and if they are content, submit for planning permission soon after.

If a planning application were approved by the summer, a detailed decision including technical plans, detailed financial appraisals and construction timelines would be put to Essex County Councillors early in 2022. If the scheme were approved, demolition and construction would be for a period of 15 months.

This is all subject to change, as is the nature of development schemes.

How will you keep residents updated during the build?

We are committed to maintaining constant dialogue with the community in the lead up to and during the build.  There will be another consultation process as part of the planning application process. This will be followed by a another decision by Essex County Council on whether or not to proceed with the scheme which will be published following the normal procedures.  Following this, information on timings and the location for the temporary library space will be available in the library and updates on the build will be available in the temporary library space and via the Essex Libraries website or by contacting Essex Housing.

Building design

Do the rear flats have balconies?


What is the distance from the balconies to No2 Friars Avenue’s windows?

The ‘shortest’ distance between the windows of rear facing apartment and the windows of No.2 is 23.4 metres. The distance from the rear edge of the balcony to the windows of No. 2 is 21.6 m. We are committed to ongoing dialogue with the site’s immediate neighbours to discuss the relationship between their property and the proposed building.

Has consideration been given to using cost effective “green” heating e.g. ground source heating, use of green roof services e.g. rainwater recycling within building?

Yes. We propose that the new building will have modern thermal insulation, energy efficient glazing and will use air source heat pumps for heating. Water saving devices and sanitaryware will ensure less water consumption. We are also looking at using LED lighting throughout the new library with absence and presence detection controls and photo-voltaic modules to assist the air source heat pumps for energy and carbon emission reduction.

What is the justification for three storeys next to two existing two storey houses? Why is this not considered too imposing?

The library site is considered an existing ‘bookend’ to the commercial/public ribbon of development on Hutton Road (when we say ‘bookend’ we mean a building which differs from the ones adjacent to it and which signal a change in building typology) – in our context, the change between public buildings and private on Hutton Road. It is considered that the 3 storeys is appropriate as it matches the scale of the surrounding commercial typology and buildings. A similar change in scale (from 3 to 2 storeys) occurs across the road, and so we consider that taking a similar approach on the Shenfield Library site has appropriate precedent on Hutton Road.

What is the overall height of the building?

As the ground around the building slopes, it is not straightforward to provide a building height. The proposed ridge level is 89.425metres above sea level (compared to OS levels). To compare – the ridge of the existing library is 84.445metres above sea level and the parapet of Rockleigh Court is 88.570. In other words, the new building will sit less than a metre higher than Rockleigh Court.

Is the flat roof the best design bearing in mind the life of a flat roof is generally 10 years? Did you develop a scheme with a pitched roof?

We believe that a flat roof is the best design. Current flat roof products can exceed a 20-year life. The option of a pitched roof was considered during the initial feasibility stage.  The flat roof option with low parapet was considered more appropriate and the pitched roof option was not taken forward.  The building is seen as a “bookend” or “a full stop” to the commercial High Street. The flat roof is more in keeping with the other adjacent buildings on Hutton Road and Friars Avenue and suits the urban context. It is also worth noting that the pitched roof would increase the height of the building and reduce the usable floor area which would impact on the scheme’s financial viability.

When the flat roof needs replacing who will pay for it?

The maintenance of the building will be paid for via a service charge. The detail of this is to be determined at the appropriate stage and before a final decision to proceed is taken.

Do the flats at the rear of the library overlook the homes behind the library?

The one bed apartments face the rear of the building and therefore also face the homes behind the library. The shortest distance between the main proposed apartments’ windows and those of the neighbours exceeds 22 m.

Is there provision for bike storage for the flats and library users?

Yes, there is a bike store for the residents already within the design. Following this point being raised we will look to see if we can add further bike storage for library staff, users and customers of the commercial space.

What provisions have been made for people with disabilities?

The building has been designed to accommodate level access throughout. Further detail in connection with other impairments (such as visual) will be developed further down the line as part of the design process. The public toilets in the library will be fully accessible.

The entrance goes straight into the main library area, would it best to consider a lobby area to regulate the temperature.

If the footprint of the library extended further, it would result in less open space and would add cost to the scheme. But we are open to understanding the views and priorities of the community and will consider adding a lobby area.

Are you going to install solar panels?

We will be using photovoltaic cells.

What is the height of the ceiling in the new library? How does that compare with the current ceiling height?

The existing floor to ceiling heights vary from 2.6m in the entrance zone, to 4.3 m/5.3m in the main building.
Further work is needed to finalise the floor to ceiling height, but currently we are working with a 4.0 m floor to ceiling height. This may be to be adjusted slightly as we complete the Technical Design Stage. The ceiling heights of the apartments will be 2.3 to 2.4 metres.

Outside space

Will the trees be mature trees providing immediate screening without waiting for them to grow?

We are yet to confirm our landscaping designs, please see the two options detailed on the website. We anticipate that some of the trees would be mature to provide immediate screening. Please do submit your thoughts for us to review.

Why can’t the existing trees currently on the site be saved?

Where we are considering the removal of trees, this will be because the proposed footprint of the building will make the retention of the trees unworkable and/or where our landscape consultants have recommended higher quality trees with the outside space designed to complement the library building and its use.


Apart from normal maintenance in what way is the current library out of date / reaching the end of its life?

The current library has planned maintenance liabilities of £300,000 over the next 3 – 5 years. It could be repaired at this cost plus any unexpected repairs. The design of the current building is inefficient with larger than required back office space and a small meeting room space with limited natural daylight. This is a unique opportunity to replace the current structure with a modern and improved library, at no extra cost to the taxpayer, as it would be funded by a modest residential development above.

Who will pay for the scheme to be built?

A final business case will be developed for Essex County Council (ECC) to invest in the scheme. The business case will need to show that the scheme will ultimately be nil cost. The sale or rental of the apartments above the library will need to cover all initial investment made by ECC.

How many flats of the type included in the new building are required for the development to break even?

Our financial appraisals are commercially sensitive. The scheme proposed is designed to break even.

Will ECC use revenue from the flats and commercial unit to support continued operation of a directly run ECC library once the redevelopment has been completed?

The development of the library will be funded by the sale or rental of the apartments above. Any revenue raised above this cost will not be ringfenced specifically but may be used for the library service or other ECC services.


Will you be inviting developers to make ECC a proposal to develop the lot – maybe include it in a wider scheme?

It is proposed that Essex Housing will develop the site. Essex Housing is ECC’s in house developer.


Has anyone from this forum spoken to either of the adjoining neighbours?

We wrote to both adjoining neighbours in advance of the public consultation on the 9th November, highlighting the coming consultation and offering the opportunity to discuss the proposals. We are committed to ongoing dialogue with the site’s immediate neighbours to discuss the relationship between their property and the proposed building and will be taking all views submitted into account. Approximately 13,500 surrounding properties have received a leaflet on our plans and contact details should they require further information or wish to provide feedback.


Write to us: Shenfield Library, Freepost CONNECT CONSULTATION
Call us: 020 7592 9592
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