Transforming Boston Spa

We're transforming our site at Boston Spa

Published date:

We’re improving our Boston Spa site to create much-needed storage capacity for our collection and improve facilities for our visitors and staff.

The £95 million redevelopment has been made possible thanks to significant government investment announced in the March 2020 budget, and the approval of our planning application to Leeds City Council.

This year we will begin constructing a new state-of-the-art storage facility and the removal of buildings that are no longer fit for use. We are also making significant improvements to the environmental sustainability of our West Yorkshire site.

These improvements at Boston Spa will develop alongside our growing cultural and learning programme in Leeds City Centre.

Why we're doing this 

We’re running out of space. Our 44-acre campus, formerly a Second World War munitions factory, is home to over three quarters of our collection of over 170 million items. 

Our growing collection requires about 8km of new shelving annually. By the end of this decade our current storage facilities will be full. We need to significantly increase our capacity to care for the national collection for future generations.

How we will do this 

Sustainability will be central to this project. We are aiming to make this development low carbon, with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy conservation. 

The planned development will include:

  • Construction of a new high-density, low-energy automated storage building
  • Removal of six outdated and environmentally-unfriendly buildings
  • Refurbishment of staff and storage areas to improve energy efficiency
  • Landscaping of the surrounding site, making the most of the natural environment and preserving local biodiversity
  • Tours, displays and a new Reading Room, as well as a café for visitors.

We’re already making energy-saving improvements to the site, including the installation of 730 solar panels, a new ground source heat pump system, smart meters and better insulation. 

Will this affect Readers? 

You may notice some changes while we prepare to redevelop the site and create more storage capacity.

Access to some sections of our collection may be disrupted as we move millions of items around the site to make way for new and improved storage facilities.

We plan to keep the Reading Room at Boston Spa open while we make improvements, but we do expect some unavoidable periods of noise and disruption over the next five years.

When will this happen?

Starting in early 2023

Construction during this period is likely to produce a significant amount of noise and dust. We will be:

  • Establishing construction areas, putting up fencing and scaffolding
  • Digging the foundations and erecting the steel frame of the new storage facility
  • Removing the lift shaft and concrete cladding from the Urquhart Building opposite the Reading Room
  • Transporting material in and around the site using heavy goods vehicles
  • Using cranes, diggers and other construction vehicles and equipment throughout the site
  • Changing where you park and how you travel around the site.

2024 onwards

Construction should become less disruptive as work moves inside. We hope to open our new facilities in 2026.

Get in touch

Although public consultation is now closed, we welcome your feedback on our plans. You can get in touch with any comments or questions by emailing us at

For all media enquiries please contact us at