THE future use of an historic building bequeathed to local residents is on the agenda of a special trustee meeting.

Darlington Borough Council is looking at two options for Crown Street library in the centre of town – develop the site for community use or sell the building for redevelopment and invest the money for future use.

The Labour council’s plans to close the library and move its services into the Dolphin leisure centre has been bitterly contested by campaigners determined to protect the legacy of Edward Pease, who funded the building with £10,000 left in his will following his death in 1880.

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And the documents for the meeting have been released just days after the town’s re-elected Labour MP, Jenny Chapman, vowed to ‘chain herself to the railings’ to stop the building being sold to developers.

In April, Ms Chapman called for the Forum Music Centre to the town’s Crown Street Library building. Her plan included turning the site of the library into a music venue with capacity for around 350 people, a gallery and café.

And the report, to go before cabinet members acting as the sole trustee for the library, reads: “The report recommends that alternative community uses for the Crown Street building be explored with interested parties being able to express an interest in utilising the building for purposes in line with the Will of Edward Pease.

“Should no suitable use be found then the building will be marketed for sale and the proceeds of the sale utilised to establish a charitable fund which might be called the Edward Pease Endowment Fund. The Fund could be managed by the County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF).”

The two alternatives on the agenda are:

Community use – disposal to a community organisation with aims compatible with those set out in the will. This would allow the building to continue to be used for the benefit of the population of Darlington and would, if possible, adhere to some or all of the aims set out in the Will

Open market sale - sell the building for the best price that can be obtained and use the receipt to create an endowment fund. This could be utilised to further the aims set out in the will of Edward Pease when bequeathing the funds

In March, despite numerous protests, petitions and residents’ efforts to protect the Grade II-listed Crown Street Library from being closed, the council has revealed the downsizing of the service by early 2018.

Following a legal challenge to the original decision taken by the council in 2016 to close the library, the Charity Commission confirmed that the site is held on trust for use as a public library.

The meeting takes place on Monday, June 19 in the Town Hall from 5pm.