Working group to consider options for future of Whitchurch Civic Centre
Shropshire Council is to set up a working group – including Shropshire Council officers, local Shropshire Councillors and Whitchurch Town Council – to consider options for the future of the Whitchurch Civic Centre site.
Last year specialist engineers found that RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) exists across the majority of the Civic Centre complex, and that it has major structural issues. They recommended that it is not safe to reopen the building and – as a result – six future options for the site have been drawn up.
The options that will be considered are:
- Do nothing and close the building permanently.
- RAAC to remain in place and mitigated through internal structural framework, repairs to spalled concrete and full replacement of roof membranes.
- Replacement of structural roof and associated essential items.
- Demolition and clearing of site.
- Demolition and rebuild as existing facilities provision.
- Demolition and redevelopment of the site.
At a meeting of Shropshire Council’s Cabinet yesterday (17 January 2024) it was agreed that a business case be drawn up for each of the six options, to include appropriate surveys, appraisals, assessments and designs.
These would then be considered by Cabinet and Council – and consultation will be carried out with Whitchurch Town Council and the local community before any final decision is made on the future of the site.
Other than the sports/market hall, the Civic Centre will remain closed for public safety and work will continue to find alternative provision for the library and community services in the town centre, and a new home for Whitchurch Town Council.
The council will also ask central Government for funding towards the cost of these options.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, said:
“The Civic Centre building remains in a very poor condition due to the presence of RAAC but no decisions have been made about the future of the building and all options remain on the table.
“We’ve set our six options and tasked officers with working with Whitchurch Town Council, local councillors and – through them – the local community, to work through the options to establish which are the preferable options for the local community and what is feasible for the council to deliver.
“Our number one priority is the safety of the public, our staff, our tenants and all users of the building and that’s why the building has to remain closed until the issues have been addressed or the building’s future has been settled.
“We’re liaising with all groups that currently use the building to help find them an alternative location and I can again give local people my reassurance that we will continue to provide library services in the town. We know how important these services are for local people and I look forward to them opening in a new interim home before moving to a long-term location.
“We have to be clear that without external funding repair of the building isn’t a feasible option, but we will be talking to the Government about possible external funding that may be available.”