The blind arches of Horsham Old Town Hall have this week been knocked through as part of the major renovation for it to be transformed into a restaurant.
Bill’s Produce signed a 20-year contract to lease the grade II listed building last month and since then contractors have been ripping up old carpets and starting a full refurbishment of the building aiming to open for trading by Christmas.
Amid concern from County Times readers, Horsham District Council has assured residents this week that all works were agreed in January 2009.
Before the committee then was an application for change of use to a restaurant, including interior and exterior alterations.
Photographs were taken of any features of architectural or archaeological interest which are being removed or exposed during the work, including the cells.
The Bill’s brand, which was founded in Lewes, has agreed to follow through this plan for its restaurant.
The basement, where there are cells dating back to the 19th century, will house the kitchen and the floors will be lowered to accommodate sufficient headroom.
On the ground floor there will be a spiral staircase installed, linking the entrance lobby to the first floor dining area. where there will be a raised dining area in line with the existing stage.
Agreed external changes to the iconic building include the removal of the staircase which once provided access to the registrar’s office and installation of three dormers to provide venting. The blind arches will be replaced with glass and there will be a disabled access ramp where the steps used to be.
A spokesman for Horsham District Council said: “As part of the conditions for approved planning applications DC/08/2317 and 2321 (Town Hall, Market Square, Horsham, West Sussex), Archaeology South East (a division of University College London) was employed by the leaseholders’ refurbishment company to monitor the opening up works at the Town Hall.
“Works are progressing as per the approved plans. The building is Grade II listed so any further changes to the building’s character will require listed building consent.”
The reports and associated consultation documents can be viewed on HDC’s planning public access system website www.horsham.gov.uk under the application numbers.