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Council to rent out parts of Town Hall?
3:13pm Wednesday 18th July 2012 in News
A PIONEERING project could see Brentwood’s under-used town hall partly let to companies to bring in cash.
The council was set to decide today the way forward for the town hall, which is about two thirds empty.
The preferred option, by a group of councillors who have worked for a year on proposals, was to keep part of the building for civic use, let a large chunk to a commercial operator and keep a smaller section of the building for community use.
Russell Quirk, chairman of the town hall delivery group, said: “We have worked tremendously hard over the past year to come up with a set of viable options for the future of the town hall.
“As a group, we went down lots of avenues to ensure civic use is retained at the town hall, but also that we get the most out of the building for the taxpayer.”
Mr Quirk said the 63,000sqft building costs up to £900,000 each year, with business rates costing £300,000.
He said it was vital the council found a way forward to make the building, which was opened by the Queen in 1957, work for the taxpayer.
Four options were outlined to councillors last night, which included:
* The council spends up to £8million on a full refurbishment of the building and tries to attract companies to use office space
* A partial refurbishment with civic use and community use in the building and empty space remaining
* A partial refurbishment to allow civic and community use and negotiate for a commercial operator to remodel the biggest part of the building for letting
* The same as option three but with the council partnering with a commercial operator and specifying the area for lease and defining clear terms to the proposed tenant.
Mike Le-Surf, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “This has been a very important project which stemmed from a great strength of feeling last July where councillors and residents showed the importance of keeping the town hall.
“Since then we have had a lot of consensus and we have worked cross-party for the good of residents and the building’s future.”
David Kendall, leader of the council’s Lib Dem group, said: “We have had more than 20 meetings and there’s been a strong unified purpose.
“The Lib Dems always wanted to save the town hall and the preferred option should benefit everybody.”