Council agrees plan to complete Ludlow Assembly Rooms renovation
Shropshire councillors have agreed a plan to ensure that a project to renovate, refurbish and revitalise Ludlow Assembly Rooms is concluded at the earliest opportunity.
‘A Sustainable Future for Ludlow Assembly Rooms’ is a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England, Shropshire Council and Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
Work was due to be completed by late September 2019 but, for a number of unforeseen reasons, has been delayed. The project is also facing a significant overspend.
At a meeting of the full Shropshire Council today (19 December 2019) councillors approved recommendations – agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 16 December – which will see the council negotiate the most suitable option for bringing the project to a conclusion, and provide an additional £1.3m from the capital budget to enable the project to be delivered in accordance with any of the proposed options.
The delays and projected overspend have come after it was found that the condition of the building is much poorer than originally thought, due in part to a number of unforeseen issues, such as:
- Repair works to the auditorium ceiling which required a detailed survey from above and below.
- Historic death-watch beetle infestation of the ground floor leading to timber decay, for which a complete replacement is necessary.
- Localised decay of timbers in contact with external walls, for which repair/replacement is necessary.
- An unstable parapet which requires a complete rebuild.
- Additional work needed to address the complexities of a new shop front opening in historic (and poor condition) building fabric.
Following the completion of the work Shropshire Council has agreed to transfer the building as a Community Asset Transfer to the Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
Under the existing plans there will be a 50% reduction in the building’s carbon footprint, plus increased accessibility, with a new and reliable lift, better, more accessible toilets and baby changing, plus more and improved seating with enhanced visibility in the auditorium.
The main entrance will revert back to the original on castle square as Ludlow Assembly Rooms takes on the ground floor of the building for the first time. This space will have a brand new café and the visitor information centre and Box Office will be combined in a visible area at the front.
The project is currently set to be completed in May 2020 with Ludlow Assembly Rooms then taking occupation.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, said:
“Ludlow Assembly Rooms is the cultural centre for south Shropshire and the premier community arts venue in Ludlow. This work will help secure the venue’s future as a regional beacon for the arts, culture and community, and – after much consideration – I feel that we therefore need to continue to support the refurbishment programme, though this has been a difficult decision.”
- The Shropshire Council-owned Ludlow Assembly Rooms (LAR) building, is leased to the independent charity and company Ludlow and District Community Association (LDCA) limited by guarantee, providing an arts and community centre serving Ludlow and its rural hinterland. The Grade II listed building dates from 1840 and requires updating and reconfiguring to make it sustainable.
- A European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant funded project of £1.34m has been awarded to the council for the modernisation of the mechanical and electrical equipment within the building.
- Shropshire Council has also agreed to contribute a maximum of £205,700 to undertake a predetermined and finite works package to address key remedial items in respect of the roof, drains and walls.
- LDCA has been awarded £350,000 from Arts Council England as part of a £615,000 project to create a new café and box office on the ground floor.
- Following Cabinet approval in July 2018, the project commenced on site in February 2019.
- Work is being carried out by Shropshire-based PaveAways.
- Lyndon Goode Architects developed an ambitious masterplan that will see LAR become one of the best rural venues in the region.
- The scheme respects and enhances the 1839 building’s neoclassical Victorian architecture, and its long history as a venue for social gatherings.