A NOT-for-profit pre-school has closed after missing out on a move to Hove Library.

Happitots in Rutland Road, Hove, has shut after 30 years of providing affordable childcare after missing out to another nursery, Hove Village, in a council-run bidding process.

Staff said the nursery – rated good by Ofsted – was being displaced from its current premises by a homeless shelter and its closure means the loss of five jobs.

Library users have criticised the move to allow a nursery and café to operate in the historic Carnegie building saying its primary use as a place for books was being marginalised.

Plans to allow businesses to co-locate in to the library were agreed last year by a cross-party working group of councillors following the rejection of moving the library service to nearby Hove Museum.

The group agreed to allow BIMM music school to lease a study room and to seek interest in May from parties looking to rent the 1,345 sq ft basement as a nursery or office and “integrating” a 172 sq ft café into the ground floor.

Property agents Carr and Priddle received five different expressions of interest for the basement and cafe.

Council officials told The Argus there was no need to soundproof the basement.

This is because noise from the nursery was unlikely to disturb the family-friendly library which had a general hum of noise and held regular “lively” events for young children such as Baby Boogie.

The basement comes with its own side entrance, outdoor space and natural light as the back of the library building is on a lower level than the front.

Former Green councillor Christopher Hawtree said: “It is dismaying that the council is trying to reduce the Carnegie Library from within after residents headed off the calamitous proposal to transfer it, shrunken, into the museum.

“Hove residents deserve a well-stocked library. Where books are, readers follow. A good library is a social force unlike any other.

“Residents were asked for ideas, and some suggested that a café should be in the basement, as it caused less of a distraction from browsing books and would have the advantage, unlike most rival cafés, of a garden.

“But it was not taken up, nor was the idea of using the library after hours as a performance space, and the council went ahead with its own three ideas.”

A council spokeswoman said: “These changes will generate vital additional income for the library service, and enable Hove Library to have a fresh start, attracting new users to the service and keeping a valuable community resource in this location.”

She said it was much more expensive to run than others.