Sustainable Boston Spa redevelopment given the green light

Architect's impression of new Boston Spa site

Planned improvements will transform our northern site into a modern and sustainable home for the UK’s growing national collection.

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Leeds City Council have granted planning permission for the large-scale redevelopment of our site at Boston Spa in West Yorkshire, following significant government investment announced in the March 2020 Budget.

Our 44-acre campus near Boston Spa is home to over three quarters of our collection of over 170 million items, including books, sound recordings, maps and works of art. The collection grows every day, requiring 8km of new shelving each year – about the length of 80 football pitches.

Now a major project will transform the facility into a modern archive capable of storing this ever-expanding collection for decades to come. 220km of extra shelf space will be created in a new high-density, automated storage building. Once complete, visitors will be able to see the inner workings ofthe spectacular storage facility – including the towering robotic cranes that fetch collection items for researchers – through a new public viewing gallery.

The new storage building will be low-carbon, with the highest levels of air tightness to create a low energy passive archive. The plans reflect the importance of sustainability within the development, which will also create new green spaces to support biodiversity.

In 2021 we also secured a Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) grant. An additional £8.5 million in funding means a range of energy-saving initiatives are already being introduced at the site, including installing:

  • around 730 solar panels providing a minimum of 225 MWh per annum

  • a new ground source heat pump system, which will help reduce the Library’s reliance on fossil fuels and will generate an anticipated 1MW of energy – the equivalent of powering 650 average homes

  • additional smart meters, better insulation and the replacement of low-energy efficiency fluorescent lamps within existing buildings.

These plans for Boston Spa also underpin our ambition to open a major new public site in the centre of Leeds powered by our collections and resources at Boston Spa. 

We hope to open the new spaces at Boston Spa by 2026.

See our plans