Fair Oak Library
Major refurbishment of Fair Oak Community Library Complete
Refurbishment works have completed at Fair Oak Community Library following a Fair Oak & Horton Heath Parish Council’s project. The works were designed by the Parish Council in consultation with the Library Trustees.
The library closed in April 2023 for repairs and refurbishment but is now fully open for the public.
This makeover project was project managed by the Council and cost over £120k to complete. It has completely transformed the interior and exterior of the building and included:
· Structural repairs
· General external maintenance
· New heating, electrical and lighting
· New thermally efficient windows, doors and sun-pipes
· Weatherproofing and drainage improvements
· Improvements to health and safety
· Full internal refurbishment
· Significant layout changes
· External redecoration
The former kitchenette has been updated and relocated to create a friendly-open plan space, giving a much brighter and more flexible space.
A relaxed seating area has been created for adults to chill out with a book and a creative and fun children’s section has been provided for imaginative play and learning.
The new design and layout provide a flexible and sustainable space for the local community to enjoy.
This much-needed work has resolved ongoing maintenance issues, a warmer and improved working environment for volunteers, whilst modernising the building to ensure the provision can adapt to the changing demand.
Cllr Helen Douglas, Chair of the Parish Council, said: “Fair Oak library is now a lovely building and it’s great to improve it for the next generation of community users. Volunteers are standing by to help residents explore the new space and will continue to support residents, particularly local children to foster a love of reading. I’d like to thank Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Area Committee for the funding support needed to support the project as well as the volunteers and service users for their patience whilst the building works took place. I’d also like to thank the staff at the Parish Council for a whole-team effort, some of whom have given up their time and own money to add extra special touches to the children’s section.”
Cllr Louise Parker-Jones says 'A huge congratulations to all involved in creating such a wonderfully welcoming space for the whole community'.
The Community Library opening times, along with pictures of the enhanced space can be found via the Council’s website and social media pages.
In January 2020, Hampshire County Council (HCC) commenced a consultation about reducing the cost of the Library Service with the aim of delivering approximately £1.86m of savings. The consultation identified a “preferred option” which would save c£1m per annum, namely the closure of up to 10 libraries across Hampshire. Fair Oak library was included amongst those it wished to close, saving approximately £37k per annum.
The consultation ran from January to March 2020 and the Parish Council’s response to the proposals can be found here.
In July 2020, the County made the formal decision to close several libraries including Fair Oak which it was closed in December 2020.
In response to the news of the closure, the Parish Council put a call to action to the community with over 30 people volunteering to help establish a community led library. Fair Oak Community Library was registered as a formal Charity on 8 December 2020.
Fair Oak & Horton Heath Parish Council, at its meeting on 22 February 2021 decided to accept the freehold transfer of the library from Hampshire County Council. They also agreed an annual budget of £7k per annum to support the maintenance of this building. The report discussed can be found here.
Both the Parish Council and the Community Library Group applied to HCC for grant aid for the building enhancements and library set up costs.
Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage, Countryside and Rural Affairs, Councillor Edward Heron approved the following funding at his Decision Day meeting on Friday 19 March: -
- £10,000 to Fair Oak Community Library - to help Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council to create an Independent Community Library and reconfigure and refurbish the library, purchase IT equipment and create training videos for volunteers.
- £3,000 to Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council – This money will be used to pay for urgent work towards rainwater goods and external handrails at Fair Oak Community Library.
The legal transfer of the library from HCC to the Parish is currently in progress. It is hoped that the Community Library will be able to open its doors in April/May 2021. That’s less then 10 months after the formal decision to close the Library and is testament to the dedication of the group of volunteers and the support of the Parish Council.
Even more exciting news, on 10 March 2021 EBC’s Local Area Committee agreed the transfer of £55,928.62 developers’ contributions for building enhancements. The Council will use this money to install solar panels, repair the old roof and make internal alterations to provide a much more inviting space. The works will likely take place after a settling in period of 9-12 months after the library has been in operation.
More information on the library can be found at www.fairoakcommunitylibrary.org