A vacant library will 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 approved plans to sell the old library to a housing association last night (Monday, August 3).

The housing association, whose name is currently confidential, will turn the old library into 15 flats rented out at 70 per cent of market rates.

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Councillor Ricky Duveen, a strong advocate of affordable housing, said the plan “answers a need that is one of our most difficult issues in Reading” and is “truly affordable housing”.

Councillor John Ennis, lead member for housing and a Southcote ward representative, said there was “pain, sadness and anger” at losing the library but the move to the community centre has been a success.

He added: “It is really good to replace such a valuable resource with affordable housing”.

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of the council and fellow Southcote ward member, said the plan will regenerate one of the entrances to coronation square, one of the hearts of the Southcote community”.

Ten offers were received for the old library, with the housing association bid not the highest offer but the expected savings and social benefits making it an attractive one.

RBC will have 100 per cent nomination rights, which means it decides which tenants move in, saving it £150,000 for the full 15 flats plus an additional £15,000 each time a new tenant moves in.

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There will be four one-bed flats and 11 two-bed flats capped at 70 per cent of the market rate rent at the site.

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, the council says there is high demand for all types of rented properties and two-bedroom homes meet the need of families, according to the report.

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

In a similar move, the council agreed in June to sell the former Whitley Library for use as a community hub.