Cheshire West and Chester Council said it is still reviewing the costs of refurbishing Northwich Library due the ‘scale and complexity’ of the work involved, but says it will not reopen until next year.

The authority set aside £2m for a refurbishment of the historic, Grade II listed timber framed building in its annual budget in 2019/20. The building was then closed in August 2022, with the council stating its age and condition meant it needed to be shut to protect public safety and allow structural engineers to carry out stabilisation work. A series of works have since taken place.

Library services were transferred to a temporary location at Weaver Hall Museum in January 2023, while the old library building in Witton Street is being renovated.

Will Charlton, who was the chairman of the Friends of the Brunner Northwich Library, has raised concerns with the council about costings and designs.

He said: "My concern is more than the works going over budget, but also the works to 'make the building fit for the 21st century', on which there is silence."

A  council spokesman said the work on the library building, which opened in 1885, was 'complex'. He told the Guardian: “During the current structural repair works, in depth surveys and investigations have been carried out as part of a phased approach to restore the building.

"This information will inform estimates associated with the cost of the full refurbishment of the building.”

He said CWAC was in the process of reviewing the final budget for the project which includes capital funding from the council.

He added that the council had also applied for external funding to contribute to the refurbishment and is currently awaiting the outcome.

He added: “External funding is subject to the criteria, demands upon it and timescale of the funding body and is not something the council can control.”

A design team has been appointed to work on the structural repairs and to deliver proposals for the wider renovation project and any further essential work.

The council said it wants to ensure the building can accommodate a 'wide range of community, learning and creative activity whilst ensuring effective use of resources'.

The spokesman added: "Due to the scale and complexity of the works required it is not currently possible to identify the full timescale of the project at this stage. It is currently anticipated the library will not reopen to the public until 2025."