‘Child grooming’ concerns lead to rethink in building of Scots library

16th July, 2021 2:48 pm

Proposals by Thomas Graham Library Ltd to demolish the existing library at Kirkburn Road and build a new one on the site have now been approved.

Plans for a new £750,000 Scots library have been adjusted after concerns were raised that nearby schoolchildren could be put a risk.

Proposals by Thomas Graham Library Ltd to demolish the existing library at Kirkburn Road, Strathblane and build a new one on the site have now been approved.

However, the original design was tweaked after concerns were raised by the Parent Council of Strathblane Primary School, which shares a boundary with the library site.

In June the Parent Council raised concerns around “safeguarding issues.”

They worried that the proximity of a new garden to an area of the playground could be used “to groom a child” and that a seated indoor area overlooking the playground posed a “child protection” issue.

They had received advice from Stirling Council’s health and safety officer and the National Designing Out Crime Manager at Police Scotland.

They also asked that a police architectural liaison report and crime impact statement be completed before the application was approved.

In their submission a Parent Council spokesperson said: “We are fully supportive of the new library being located beside the school and we hope that our children will benefit from a future close relationship between the library and the school.

“Unfortunately, the plans that have been submitted for approval do not appear to consider the significant safeguarding issues that a public building bordering onto a school playground poses.

“We have two serious concerns; first, that the plans have a large glazed wall with seating for the general public directly overlooking the children’s playground.

“Our children have a right to play without constantly being observed by strangers in addition to the obvious child protection issues that this design poses.

“We do not believe that this situation can be safely policed by the library or school staff.

“Secondly, the design incorporates a private, secluded reading garden looking directly onto the playground.

“This is a very private area that isn’t overlooked by any other property or roads.

“The architect proposes a low fence and planting between the garden and the playground but we are concerned that this would not be adequate to prevent this area being used to groom a child.

“It would also be open to potential misuse outwith library opening hours.

“We feel strongly that creating seating for the general public to relax in while overlooking children at play is completely different to perimeter viewing.

“The current open view of the boundary fences allows school staff to monitor the children safely but the proposed design for the new library will make this impossible.”

However, in their decision to approve, Stirling Council planners said this week that matters had now been addressed.

They said: “Strathblane Parent Council support the planning application and are satisfied with changes proposed for the design of the library as follows – removal of the reading garden, removal of the bench between the library and the school, and frosted vinyl to be installed on glazing facing the school to a height of 1.8m at the library. These conditions are acceptable to the applicant.”

They added: “The siting of the building is set back from adjacent school and residential uses such that the amenity and setting of these adjacent uses will be preserved. “The proposal shows an efficient layout and use of space. The design is a contemporary building design with glazing which is appropriate for a modern library.

“The site is located centrally to Strathblane and is accessed directly from Kirkburn Road, a public road that is subject to a 20mph speed limit, and is served by dual footways along most of its length.”

The new library will become a first community hub for Strathblane and its adjoining villages of Blanefield, Mugdock and Carbeth, providing social, recreational and education services to their 2300 residents.

Strathblane’s current library, housed in an ageing portable cabin, is exceptionally popular, attracting 33,000 visits a year from 1500 people.

Thomas Graham Library Ltd, a subsidiary of Strathblane Community Development Trust, had a breakthrough in their fundraising for the library when local landowner Angus Graham made the huge personal commitment of donating £500,000 towards the cost of a new library.

A further £100,000 came from a European family charitable foundation that has links with Mr Graham and crowdfunding from locals has raised more than £65,000.

Source: Daily Record, July 2021

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