BARNSLEY'S central library will be demolished and temporarily relocated under plans approved by the council this week.

The decision to allow Barnsley College to build on the Shambles Street site and relocate the library to Wellington Street until a new library is built was rubber-stamped by councillors.

Central library will close on 21 March and reopen at Wellington House on 15 May, despite thousands of residents signing petitions appealing against the proposal.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “It is one of those decisions where we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

"No-one has suggested that we move out of the library because it's not fit for purpose. It's a terrific facility and people value it. But our decision has to encompass more than that. 

"I have the greatest respect for the protesters. They have a right to air their views but we have to take a decision for the benefit of Barnsley. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the right thing to do."

The move to Wellington Street will make way for a new state of the art sixth form college and the regeneration of Shambles Street, a major gateway into the town.

The works are all part of a £57 million town centre investment scheme.

A new library is expected to be built in the town centre in the next two to three years, at a cost of about £4 million.

Meanwhile, the council is planning to sell off more than 160 pieces of art from the library.

The artworks are a combination of original works or limited edition prints and were previously part of the libraries' picture loan collection that ceased in 2007.

A Barnsley Council spokeswoman said none of the pieces have significant value.

"Any funds raised from the auction will be used to support the future library strategy," she said.

The collection has been in storage since 2007 and apart from a few being used in the cafe area of the Shambles Street library, there has not been space for the rest to be on display.

The spokeswoman added: "We hope by selling the pieces at auction they will once again be able to be enjoyed by others."

Barnsley Council has advertised for auctioneer to assist in the sale of the paintings via an auction.