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The Forum Southend-on-Sea is a unique and exciting partnership project which brings a brand new state-of-the-art library and learning facilities to the heart of Southend Town Centre. Never before in Britain have three organisations worked in harmony together on such a prestigious and ambitious scheme. The £27m enterprise is delivered jointly by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College.
Completed in August 2013, The Forum Southend-on-Sea provides the town with a state-of-the-art integrated municipal and academic public library. By pooling their resources in this way the three partners can offer residents and students alike unprecedented access to the books, archives and records they jointly hold. This joint approach means each of the organisations benefits from upgraded and expanded library and learning opportunities. As a result, their joined up and more cost-effective services meets the changing needs of the community and gives better value for money.
There is room for people of all ages, young and old, to read, study, research and take part in different activities at the new library. In addition the four-storey building provides a modern new teaching facility for the College and a stimulating new research and learning environment for the University. The development is vital to enable the University of Essex to provide the best possible learning facilities for its growing number of students in Southend. It also gives the College more dedicated teaching space for its higher education provision in partnership with the University.
Set within a new public square, The Forum Southend-on-Sea is the new home of Focal Point Gallery as well as a new café and lecture theatre. It acts as a major forum for community-based activities and has become an integral part of the town centre, assisting in its re-generation. The Council provided £12.5m towards the cost of the project, with the University contributing £10.4m and the College £4m. Work began in March 2012 after Wates Construction emerged from a rigorous procurement process as the chosen contractors for the prestigious scheme. Their appointment brought economic benefits for south east Essex as the firm sourced much labour and materials from the local area.