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Time extension for archives scheme at Aberystwyth’s National Library granted

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

ABERYSTWYTH’S National Library calls for a time extension to plans for a multi-million pound scheme to house BBC Wales archives in a special extension, as funding was lost as a result of the Covid pandemic, have been given the go-ahead.

The 2018 application – together with a fairly standard condition five-year period for the works to start – was granted in November of that year, but funds set aside for the project had to be used for emergency purposes.

The brief for the National Broadcast Archive building is to provide environmentally controlled, high -density storage for 750 cubic metres of archive material, comprising magnetic tape, celluloid film, vinyl recordings and paper documents, with approximately 25 per cent of the volume being refrigerated.

The site for the archive is to the rear of the site attached to the third library building and adjacent to the outstore.

The application for a time extension – submitted last November – stated: “The development has been temporarily postponed until sufficient new funding becomes available,” adding: “Design work is complete and ready to go to tender.

“However, insufficient funding is available for the project to commence before November 26, 2023, which is the deadline for commencement under the [five year] planning condition.”

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Ceredigion county planners, under delegated powers, have now approved an alteration of conditions to 10 years, allowing a further five years for the development to commence.

Under the originally-granted plans, the four-storey National Broadcast Archive would be housed in a new extension linked with the third library building through a single-storey link bridge, expected – at the time – to cost some £9m.

Other works involved in the scheme included the demolition of existing staircase at the east end of the adjacent out-store building and the construction of new staircase, the demolition of an existing brick boundary wall surrounding an external chiller plant compound, and the installation of new cladding to the external face of the existing machine house at the north end of the third library building.

A supporting statement with the original application said the archive -which would be digitised – would not be accessible to the general public.

A report for Ceredigion planners at the time of the 2018 application said: “The proposed archive building will have limited impact on the significance of the Grade II* listed building and historic garden by virtue of its discreet positioning at the rear of the site where there has already been a substantial amount of modern development.

“The proposals will, however, deliver a solution which will tidy up an area of the complex which is currently unsightly, by delivering a modern aluminium clad elevation framed by two brick extensions, and tying together neatly the third library building and outstore.”

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