WORK on a new £5.3m Explore library learning centre in York will begin in late spring this year, as the council confirms its contractor.

Having secured planning permission in October 2022, the new building will be constructed by the Northallerton-based construction firm, Walter Thompson Contractors, on the site of the former Clifton Without Junior School.

Clifton Explore Library Learning Centre will be five times larger than the existing library - and successful Explore Centres at Acomb and the Centre@Burnholme in Tang Hall will be a pattern for Clifton Explore.

The 1,400 square metre site will offer space for some 15,000 books, a reading cafe and a children’s library, plus rooms for community partners and other spaces.

A number of organisations will be based at the new Explore Centre including those offering support to disabled children and young people, as well as learning projects, career advice and apprenticeships.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities at City of York Council, said: “The new Clifton Explore will deliver the vision of a joint community hub and learning centre, shared by local partners to enhance the breadth and range of events and services to local residents.

“This is the latest step in delivering on our long-term commitment to provide these important community facilities and I’m excited to see this vision for Clifton Explore progressing to deliver improved community services for all.”

York Press: The new library will be built on the site of the former Clifton Without Junior SchoolThe new library will be built on the site of the former Clifton Without Junior School (Image: City of York Council)

The development will include outdoor spaces for play and a terrace outside the reading cafe. As well as new bike storage, the car park will have electric vehicle chargers. Low energy features will be in incorporated, including building green roofs and solar panels which will help fuel passive ventilation and heat recovery systems.

On the site’s additional land, a new safe school access route to the neighbouring Vale of York Academy will be built - and a registered social landlord will be procured to deliver some much-needed low carbon, affordable homes.

Around 90 per cent of residents taking part in a consultation approved of moving the library from Rawcliffe Lane to this new location, closer to the heart of Clifton in Rawcliffe Drive. Explore will continue to offer all its services from the existing library until work on the new centre is completed.

Jenny Layfield, chief executive at Explore Libraries, said: “Explore’s vision for transforming Clifton Explore has been developed in detail over the past year - and local people have already told us a lot about what they want from this valuable new community space at the heart of Clifton.

“As an independent mutual society, Explore is committed to developing all our spaces and services collaboratively so that local people get the libraries they want and need.

"We now look forward to being able to carry on those important conversations, as we work to create a friendly, accessible, safe space where all can feel welcome.”