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Ceredigion Mid Wales Politics

Extension plans for National Library car park submitted

Aberystwyth's National Library (Pic: Google Street View)

AN APPLICATION to refurbish and extend the “confusing” National Library Of Wales car park, which is in “a poor state of repair” has been submitted to Ceredigion planners.

The application, made by Mark Stevens of the National Library Of Wales, seeks to refurbish and resurface the car park to the south of the Grade II*-listed building, along with relining, new signage, additional lighting, additional drainage and an extension of car park by approximately 70sq m to accommodate a new central walkway.

A heritage impact assessment accompanying the application, made by agents Catalina Architecture & Design Ltd says: “The car park is currently in a poor state of repair. The tarmac has been patch-repaired on numerous occasions as works have been undertaken, and due to the variation in levels this has had a detrimental effect on the drainage.

“There are significant areas of ponding water when it rains. There are also areas of the car park which are not adequately served by drainage gullies. The markings for the car park spaces are confusing with areas of cross hatching not relating to the current car park layout.

“Car park users are constantly complaining that the layout is confusing and that the traffic directions and signage is poor. The lighting within the car park is also poor and inconsistent.”

The heritage statement goes on to some detail about the history of the library.

“The National Library of Wales was established by Royal Charter in 1907. The doors of the National Library were first opened on January 1, 1909 and for nearly eight years its temporary home was Laura Place near the Old College in Aberystwyth.

“The National Library building was designed by the Architect Sidney Kyffin Greenslade, assisted by Reginald Blomfield and carried out in stages under Adams, Holden and Pearson. The foundation stone was laid on July 15, 1911 by King George V and Queen Mary.

“The building was not substantially completed until 1937, delayed by the First World War and later by financial hardship, as the library relied heavily on public donations to fund the ongoing building work.

“The library houses a copy of every printed work published in Britain and Ireland. It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales.”

It says the library has, more recently, diversified its activities and has become a wedding venue and also accommodates conferences, the car park “becoming a major supporting facility for the library which relies increasingly on access by car and is important to the smooth running of the additional services that the library now offers to the community and the general public”.

The National Library recently called for a time extension to previously-granted plans for the scheme to house BBC Wales archives in a special extension, as funding was lost as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The car park application will be considered by planners at a later date.