A vacant library is set to be sold on to a housing association and transformed into affordable flats.

The former Southcote Library, just off Southcote Lane, on the corner of Coronation Square, was closed in 2018, with library services moving to the Y&C Centre.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee will vote next Monday (August 3) on plans to sell the old library to a housing association which would turn it into 15 flats.

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Ten offers were received for the old library, with the housing association bid not the highest offer.

The offer from the anonymous housing association, RBC’s preferred bidder,  is £97,000 less than the top bid, but the report says there would be revenue savings of £150,000 from not having to pay for emergency accommodation and extra ongoing savings.

The report states: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent financial difficulties, there is a risk of prolonged and significant increase in households presenting as homeless.

“This could result in the continued use of high cost emergency accommodation.”

The council would have 100 per cent nomination rights, which means RBC would decide which tenants move in, saving it £150,000 plus an additional £15,000 each time a new tenant moves in.

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There would be four one-bed flats and 11 two-bed flats capped at 70 per cent of the market rate rent at the site, if the plans are approved.

RBC currently has 3,200 people on the council housing waiting list.

While the highest need in the borough is for three-bedroom accommodation or above, there is high demand for all types of rented properties and two-bedroom homes meet the need of families, according to the report.

If approved, the sale will be subject to the proposal getting planning permission and will be funded with £785,000 of social housing funding from the government.

What are the other options?

The highest offer is for nine flats and four houses, while the other two top offers were for nine flats and four houses and 12 flats and two houses respectively.

The housing association plan is for four one-bed and 11 two-bed affordable flats capped at 70 per cent of the market rate rent.

Bids also came in from charities, but they did not score highly enough to outweigh the value offered by the housing association’s bid, according to the report.

Other lower bids were submitted for a number of different uses, including a nursery and supported living scheme.

The council agreed in June to sell the former Whitley Library for use as a community hub.