£95m British Library plans at Boston Spa given green light

Plans for a large-scale redevelopment of the British Library site near Wetherby have been approved.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 3:14 pm

The £95m construction programme will transform the 44-acre site at Boston Spa into a more modern archive with more much-needed and effective storage for its growing collection.

Phil Spence, Chief Operating Officer of the British Library, said: “We are delighted that Leeds City Council has approved our plans to re-develop our site at Boston Spa to accommodate the UK’s growing national collection and build on our commitment to shaping a brighter climate future.

“A national library is, by its very nature, a long-term investment and an expression of hope in the future, so it’s essential that sustainability should be at the heart of this development.

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“It marks a major step forward towards transforming our presence in the north of England and creating a sustainable British Library for everyone.”

Further work will be dedicated to improving facilities for staff and visitors and making ‘significant improvements’ to the environmental sustainability of the site, originally a Second World War armaments factory.

The site, which has been home to the library for six decades, will also undergo a series of environmental improvements after securing an £8.5m Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) grant.

Around 730 solar panels providing a minimum of 225 MWh per annum.

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

Additional smart meters, better insulation and the replacement of low-energy efficiency fluorescent lamps within existing buildings.

As part of the new development, 220km of extra shelf space will be created in a new high-density, automated storage building which will have the highest possible level of air tightness creating a low energy passive archive.

Once 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.

The redevelopment of the site at Thorp Arch will support and enable the Library’s plans for a major new public centre at Temple Works in Leeds city centre.