Bath & North East Somertset Council

Modern, Integrated Library and Customer Services for the Future

Have your say on the location of a combined Library & One Stop Shop in Bath

Bath library location optionsAs part of the wider Modern Libraries Programme, the Council is combining library and Council One Stop Shop services in Bath and would like to know your preferred location for this facility.

The viable options for location are The Podium (the current location of Bath Central Library) or Lewis House, Manvers Street (the current location for the Council’s One Stop Shop).

The aim is to provide one, modern, central location where more people from a wider range of backgrounds can be helped to reach their full potential through access to books, information, events, face-to-face support, and up-to-date digital technology.

How to take part

You can take part in this consultation either online using the information provided on the following pages, or by picking up a printed version from any library or One Stop Shop in the area.

We ask that you read all of the background information and comparisons before completing the survey.

In the tabs below you’ll find:

  • Background information in Q&A format
  • A table comparing the pros and cons of the two viable locations - The Podium and Lewis House
  • Floor plans of the location options
  • Supporting documents (including the full business case for this proposal, a needs assessment and analysis of data)
  • Video explaining why we need to change the way we deliver library and One Stop Shop services

We know people feel strongly about the location of the service, so please don’t miss this chance to have your say.

The consultation runs from 20 July to 15 September 2017.

The survey is now closed. 


Our aim is to integrate library and customer services in Bath to reach out to more people from all ages and backgrounds - providing a place where everyone in the community can access support, knowledge, culture and events to help them reach their full potential.

A modern, central facility will offer:

  • Access to books for both adults and children, promoting literacy and enjoyment of reading
  • Improved access to the internet and PCs, particularly for those who don't have these at home
  • A welcoming, safe place for families to enjoy reading and play
  • Face-to-face help with council-related matters, such as planning applications, reporting issues and help with benefits
  • Access to our voluntary and partner services, such as our housing providers
  • Opportunities to learn new skills
  • A place to prepare job applications and research opportunities
  • A space for events and creative workshops with opportunities for learning and meeting others
  • Information that supports better health and wellbeing.

The integration of services is both physical and cultural, with library and customer services coming together to share the same space, facilities and support. We've drawn on national and international best practice to develop our approach.

Once the location for the combined service in Bath has been determined, we will be engaging with a cross section of the community to help us shape the design of the facility. 

The way people are using libraries and accessing Council information is changing.

So to ensure a thriving future for both services, we need to modernise and change the way we deliver them to better meet the needs of all residents. At the same time, the Council - like all other councils - is facing increasing financial pressure and needs to cut over £37 million from its budget over the next three years. Combining services in Bath offers an 'invest to save' opportunity in line with the recommendations from the National Libraries Task Force and the Government. The investment will enable us to invigorate both services to suit modern requirements, while also making savings of up to £800,000 a year for the Council after 2020.

We cannot afford to run the two services separately any more. But by combining the two, we can create a vibrant, modern facility capable of meeting the library and customer service needs of everyone in the community. We want libraries to thrive - not just survive.

Demographic and visitor data confirms that Bath Central Library has greater activity than any other library in the area. While footfall is high, the number of items borrowed from the library is declining with people using the space for other activities, such as events, research, and using the internet and PCs. Data from our One Stop Shop shows the majority of users are from less well-off communities or may need extra support to access information.

Combining both services under one roof provides a great opportunity to introduce library services to One Stop Shop users, meaning more people from a wider range of backgrounds will have better access to digital technology, books, knowledge, creative events and skills opportunities, along with face-to-face support. This fits with the Council's aim to help more people - especially young people from more deprived backgrounds - to reach their full potential.

The data we've collected will help us work with the community to design services that will make a tangible difference to people's lives, while continuing to provide services that people love and cherish.

See the Needs Assessment for a full analysis of the data we hold (PDF)

Last year, the Council originally put forward Lewis House for the location of a combined Library & One Stop Shop in Bath as it met a number of national best practice guidelines. This included having a visible high street presence and being closer to the main transport hubs. The Council also owns the building which would enable us to guarantee its future use.

Since then, we've listened to the views of the public and looked at five options for the location of Bath's new service. Following further work, including an independent access survey and a full needs analysis, we believe that two of the options - the Podium and Lewis House - both have the capacity to deliver all of the library and One Stop Shop services to meet the 21st century needs of our users. The remaining three options have been fully considered and assessed and ruled out due to a combination of not meeting the service provision, high cost, building/ access constraints and lack of availability. These were: doing nothing, integrating to the Guildhall or providing a new purpose-built building.

Full details of the options are included in the business case

The Council retains an open mind on how the integrated service in Bath will look and feel and which of the two viable locations is chosen. The views of the public will therefore help to inform and shape the Council's decision on the location of a combined Library & One Stop Shop in Bath, along with findings on costs, access, and an analysis of data - all of which is presented in the business case.

Both options for location (the Podium and Lewis House) have the capacity to deliver the full range of library and One Stop Shop services. Whatever the location, the library will look different to how it looks now.

See the 'Comparison' tab to explore the pros and cons of each location

We are consulting the public on the preferred location for a combined Library & One Stop Shop in Bath. This is part of our proposal to invest in both services to better meet the needs of today's customers and make financial savings over the long term.

Our proposal is to fully integrate both services under one roof, refurbish and improve the final building choice, update technology and facilities, and improve operating efficiency. Staff within the proposed new service will be trained to handle a wider range of enquiries i.e. both library and customer service enquiries.

The two options for consideration are providing a combined Library & One Stop Shop service in either the Podium or Lewis House. The total building and conversion cost for modernising the Podium is estimated to be £2.8m, giving a net saving of £393,000 per year from 2020. This compares to £6.4m and £327,000 per year for Lewis House.

The difference in net savings is due to the lower costs of borrowing in the case of the Podium, and the opportunities for additional rental income from the Podium if the Library moves to Lewis House. Please refer to the Business Case in Documents for more details.

This work is part of a wider Modern Libraries Programme, which also proposes to modernise community libraries and integrate Midsomer Norton's services. If we integrate to the Podium, the whole programme will save £798,000 per year after 2020. If we integrate to Lewis House, the whole programme will save £732,000 per year after 2020.

Once the Council has received the results of the consultation and has fully considered and decided on the location, it will work with a cross section of the community to help shape and design the new facility. This is likely to take place between November 2017 and February 2018. The Council retains an open mind on how the combined service in Bath will look and feel, and how much space is allocated to different functions. You can express your interest in taking part in these discussions when you complete this consultation survey on the location of the combined service. 

The survey is now closed.

Comparison of location options

Options Lewis House The Podium
  • Adequate floor area to deliver a combined service.
  • Located on three floors, it offers very good opportunity for zoning areas e.g. adult and children’s spaces.
  • Could include several smaller event spaces enabling a number of events to take place at any one time.
  • Not possible to include a larger event space.
  • Adequate floor area to deliver a combined service.
  • Located on a single floor, it offers a sense of space
    and openness.
  • The large open space makes zoning the area more difficult.
  • A large event room could be retained.
  • Opportunities for smaller events spaces still possible.
Floor space
  • 1437m2 (total public floor space), spread across three floors – sufficient to deliver the full range of services.
  • The main staircase will be enclosed and moved outside of the building creating a more useable internal space.
  • 1688m2 (total public floor space) across one floor, which is adequate to deliver the integrated service.
  • The relocation of archive and local studies material to the Guildhall has created additional space for the combined service.
  • Lewis House was designed as an office block, not a public space.
  • Ceiling height is low but adequate.
  • Internal columns could restrict flexibility of use.
  • A new external staircase will be needed to provide access to all floors.
  • The Library was originally designed as a public space.
  • It has appropriately high ceilings.
  • Close to main transport links e.g. Bus and Railway stations.
  • Directly opposite the proposed new Bath University and Study Centre to benefit students.
  • Situated 300 yards further from the town centre than the Podium.
  • Closer to Southgate Shopping Centre.
  • Benefits from ‘shop front’ and visible from the street.
  • The Podium is centrally located within the city and close to bus stops serving routes to and from the east of Bath.
  • Benefits from a convenient location next to Waitrose and adjoining café.
  • Because there is no ‘shop front’, opportunities to attract new users may be lost.
Access restrictions
  • Multiple levels may be a disadvantage for people with mobility issues although there will be lift access to all floors.
  • Dedicated drop off and parking for people with restricted mobility alongside and opposite the building.
  • Library located on the first floor requiring all users to use the stairs/escalator/lifts to access services.
  • Single floor layouts provide easier access and orientation for many disability groups.
  • Disabled parking available in the car park below the Podium.
  • Manvers Street car park is opposite.
  • Southgate car park is a five minute walk away.
  • Bike parking is available.
  • The Podium car park is directly underneath the library, offering accessible covered parking.
  • Bike parking is available opposite the entrance.
Building works
  • Works will be more complex than at the Podium.
  • It is anticipated that the design and construction will take 12.5 months, three months longer than at the Podium.
  • This will lead to more disruption to staff and public.
  • The 3rd and 4th floors of Lewis House would also have minor refurbishment and be retained for B&NES staff use – some as duty support for the service.
  • Works will be less complex than at Lewis House.
  • It is anticipated that design and construction will take 9.5 months, three months less than at Lewis House.
  • The layout would be reconfigured, and improvements would be made to heating, lighting and cooling, along with new flooring and library fixtures and fittings.
  • The back office will be refurbished to support the new integrated service.
Cost and outcome
  • Total estimated building and conversion cost for modernising Lewis House is £6.4m.
  • Anticipated net saving of £327,000 per year from 2020.
  • Council has good opportunity to raise income from the vacated site at the Podium through renting some of the space to contribute to the cost of investment and financial savings.
  • Potential opportunities for secondary retail income.
  • Projected net annual savings of £732,000 per year across the whole programme after 2020.
  • Total estimated building and conversion cost for
    modernising The Podium is £2.8m.
  • Anticipated net saving of £393,000 per year from 2020.
  • The lease does not allow any retail use within the library area therefore opportunities for additional retail income are restricted. Contributions towards the cost of investment of financial savings will depend on staff savings.
  • Projected net annual savings of £798,000 per year across the whole programme after 2020.
Property matters
  • The Council owns the building so we can guarantee its future use.
  • The vacated space in the Podium would be refurbished for partial external rent or for commercial rent to B&NES partners.
  • Moving to Lewis House would open up commercial opportunities.
  • The Council does not own the Podium. The contract with
    the landlord has break clauses every 10 years. There are
    currently no plans from the Landlord to ask the Council to
    leave, but if that was the case, the Council would be entitled to compensation or acceptable alternative accommodation within the shopping centre.
  • Space vacated by the One Stop Shop in Lewis House could be used for B&NES staff, releasing other buildings for rent or sale.

Floorspace drawings

The Podium

Public space 1688m2
Podium floor plan


Lewis House

Public space 1437m2

Lewis House floor plan

Functions to include in the public space

  • Shared meet and greet/triage point for all services & partners/agencies
  • Shared enquiry desks for all services
  • Shared customer waiting area, with multimedia (web accessed) viewing screens
  • Self service area(s) – includes PCs, library kiosks, payment kiosks, telephone access & privacy booths
  • Quick select library books display
  • Marketing/information display area(s)
  • Leaflet racking & notice boards
  • Quiet study/reading/work space
  • Informal reading/relaxing areas (including space for newspapers/periodicals)
  • Book stock zoned for accessibility – to include; children’s, young adult, adult fiction, adult non-fiction, reference, quick reference & maps, family history & local studies lending stock, customer’s reserved items
  • Customer PCs suitable for group teaching as well as individual use
  • Printers and photocopiers
  • Children’s area with space for group activity
  • Children’s play corner/equipment
  • Rentable public meeting/surgery/counselling rooms (1-1 & medium size)
  • Shared secure formal interview rooms including for partners/agencies
  • Exhibition space(s)


Functions to include in the back office areas

  • Workspace for library stock handling e.g. processing of new items, shipping of items to other locations – adjacent to the library public area
  • Accessible stock
  • Storage area
  • Printers and scanners
  • Secure room for safe and cash handling
  • Duty hotdesk space/workstations (equipped with PCs & phones)
  • Staff welfare facilities


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