CHAMPIONS of local libraries took to the streets at the weekend to hit out at plans to build a new facility and flats to replace the existing site in Loughton.

Members of Epping Forest Save Our Libraries Essex staged an alternative consultation in Loughton High Road on Saturday between 2pm and 4pm, outside the old Clinton Cards on Centric Parade.Epping Forest Guardian:

They claim the plans will lead to a much smaller library space and put “property developers before people”.

The project, led by Essex Homes, promises to replace the 1970s-built library in Trapps Hill, which the council says “will soon require extensive and costly maintenance”, with a brand-new library and up to 38 flats.

A spokesmman for Epping Forest Save Our Libraries Essex said: “What an incredible day in Loughton. We were simply overwhelmed by the hundreds of responses at our alternative consultation. 

“People in Loughton have made it quite clear - we do not want our library to be demolished and replaced with a big block of luxury flats. 

“With our ‘new’ much smaller library an afterthought underneath. 

“A big thanks also to all our volunteers who helped make the day such a success. Hands off our libraries.”

The county council says money made from the homes will allow the authority to deliver the new library “at net zero cost to residents”. A county spokesman said: “The scheme provides an enhanced library on the existing site including space for community partners, meeting rooms, events and a new outdoor learning and activity space.

“A detailed online, digital, and in-person consultation programme ran during July and August and marked a key milestone in the project. 

“The consultation gave residents, library users and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback through a structured survey, free text response and dedicated phone line, ensuring all comments could be captured to make the new library reflective of their needs.”