A £2.9M blueprint to cement the future of a library after years of uncertainty looks set to be approved.

Following a decision to close Crown Street Library in Darlington being reversed and months of discussions over its design and uses, Darlington Borough Council has revealed the taxpayer faces having to pay £900,000 more to keep the distinctive Victorian premises as a library than when initial estimates were made two years ago.

More than half the cost will be used to address ongoing issues with the building, such as a new roof, asbestos removal, structural repairs, and new mechanical and electrical equipment.

In addition, an extra £180,000 of taxpayer’s money a year will be used to maintain adequate staff and to restore the book fund to levels before the cuts of the previous administration.

A report to the authority’s cabinet states the refurbishment work will be carried out to reflect both the historic nature of the building and as many of the wishes put forward during public consultations.

It states the key to increasing visitors to the library will be a strong events and activity programme, improved offers for children and teenagers and better computers, toilets and local studies sections.

The proposed design will see the Crown Street entrance adapted to make it accessible for all customers, introducing a lift as well as retaining the existing lift at the corner of Priestgate. While the existing reception desk will be removed self-service points located at various locations as well as information hubs, library staff will be on hand for customers who need help.

The report states while there had been numerous suggestions to create a café within the library to generate income, officers did not believe it would be financially viable.

The Conservative-run council’s leader, Councillor Heather Scott said while she wanted the historic building to become a centre for heritage, the library would also play an important role in encouraging children to read.

She said: “Reading helps broaden children’s horizons and it makes people more confident. The library was one of the main things people were concerned about in the run up to the council elections last year and this is about delivering on our promises to retain and improve the library.”

It is anticipated the works will be completed by next winter and that there will be service reductions during the revamp, with full closures of the building kept to a minimum.