Design work is being finalised on plans by Bucks County Council to renovate its former 1930s library in High Wycombe.

The historic building on Queen Victoria Road will be converted into modern offices - but the county council is assuring residents the renovation will be done in a “sensitive and creative” way that would retain its period features. 

The plans will involve restoring and replicating neo-Georgian timber and glazed screens, and restoration of art-deco glazing insets in the ceiling.

Restoration will also include the terrazzo floored reception, and removal of a first floor corridor wall to reinstate the original balcony overlooking the reception. 

Along with roof refurbishment, restoring original timber sash windows, replacing the electrical and heating systems, and upgrading the toilets, a lift will be installed making the building more accessible.

John Chilver, cabinet member for resources, said: “This is an impressive, attractive and important heritage building in a conservation area, and as a responsible custodian of such buildings we want to restore and protect it. 

“We’d like to bring it back into contemporary use, which I believe will be good for the vitality of the town centre, and continue to make a great contribution to the High Wycombe townscape.” 

A planning application to change the use of the building to offices, along with the part demolition of a single storey rear extension, will be considered by Wycombe District Council in March.

Work could start in the summer.

Library services transferred to the new, bigger library in the Eden shopping centre in 2008 and the building has stood empty ever since as Bucks County Council embarked on a legal wrangle to remove a covenant. 

The covenant restricted the building to educational or library use only. 

High Wycombe has had a public library since the early 1870s when philanthropist James Oliff Griffits paid for the first one to be opened in the old Church Street school "to give the poor the opportunity to further their education".  

It was 60 years later that the new public library in Queen Victoria Road was built, along with the nearby council offices, post office and police station.