Southam could have library, care home, museum and council services all under one roof

A MULTI-MILLION pound project to bring Southam library, a new care home and community services under one roof are to go on display soon.

Plans are being drawn up to rebuild the library and the empty Victor Hodges House care home, with a ‘one stop shop’ for council services and possibly a home for the town’s historic Cardall collection.

Orbit Heart of England Housing Association, which owns Victor Hodges House, has secured funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to redevelop the site as ‘extra care’ accomodation where elderly people can live independently.

Stratford district councillor Dave Wise said: “This will give a real opportunity for people who live in Southam and who are growing older to stay in the town and for families to stay together.”

Inside there will be a community restaurant, hair and beauty salons and community rooms. Warwickshire Police will also use the building, where people will be able to speak to advisers about Stratford district council and Warwickshire County Council services.

A £600,000 contribution from supermarket Tesco towards town centre improvements will also be used. Part of an agreement when planning permission for the store was granted, it must be returned if it is not spent within five years of the supermarket’s completion. There is a three-year time limit on Orbit’s grant.

Cllr Wise said he hoped plans would go on display at the library before the end of the year and said quick progress was vital.

He added: “The town centre is crying out for regeneration. We also have a large open space that is used very infrequently. We want to make more use of that and hold more events.”

Southam mayor Cllr Mike Gaffney said the town council was keen to preserve the green space around the site, adding: “This has to be good for the town. The library is a 1960s building. It has reached the end of its life.”

Some 2,130 people signed a petition presented at Downing Street in March 2010 to protect the Victor Hodges House site from being redeveloped as part of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s plans for a town centre store.