22/04/2024 - Permalink

Leader of the Council asks Government minister for Whitchurch Civic Centre funding

Related topics: Assets and estates / Finance and budget / Partner organisations
Whitchurch civic centre

Whitchurch Civic Centre

Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council, has written to Jacob Young MP, Levelling Up Minister, to seek funding for Whitchurch Civic Centre.

The centre is currently closed after 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.

A working group has been set up to consider six possible options for the Civic Centre site and make a recommendation to Shropshire Council’s Cabinet – with the group set to launch a public consultation soon to ask local people for their views. The group is made up of local Shropshire Councillors, Whitchurch Town Councillors, and officers.

The options put forward for consideration 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.

The estimated costs of these options ranges from £60,000 to £7.6m.

In her letter to Jacob Young, Lezley Picton says:

“Shropshire Council has reluctantly been forced to take the decision to permanently close Whitchurch Civic Centre.

“Whitchurch Civic Centre… provided a popular, multi-purpose venue encompassing the town council offices and their meetings, the town’s library and registrar services as well as tourist information and Shropshire Council services through the community hub. Its hire rooms were continually booked up for regular events such as the weekly Friday market, charity coffee mornings, sports clubs, fitness classes, theatre productions, dog training classes, religious services, funeral teas and wedding receptions, to name just a few. It was the venue for large events, professional and amateur shows, the annual Blackberry Fair, and public meetings. It has been the venue for the Parliamentary count at general elections and the location for all the Whitchurch electoral polling stations.

“It was the beating heart of the town and the surrounding rural area, and its closure has  caused a massive public outcry, because it is such an overwhelming loss to so many communities, not just the town itself. It was used not only by residents of north Shropshire but also those from South Cheshire and the Maelor area of North-East Wales.

“These are significant costs for my council to consider particular at a time when we are facing our greatest financial challenges. We recognise the Government’s desire to level up funding opportunities to areas such as Shropshire.

“I would therefore ask you to advise what Government funding may be available to inform the business cases and options for this vital venue. I am aware that Helen Morgan MP has also written to you and awaits similar advice from your department.”

Whitchurch Town Council has moved from the building and sought new interim accommodation in the town. Alternative locations are being sought for the public library and registrar services. Only the sports hall/ market hall remains open for public use.