YOU REPORT (February 23) that Horsham District Council has instructed agents to market Horsham’s old town hall either for sale, lease or a combination of these.
The building is offered for any variety of uses and possibly on a separate floor by floor basis.
None of this will of course satisfy those who again it seems propose court action. Yet more delay and cost.
The building has stood empty for long enough and many believe that incorporating some commercial use is the right approach.
This is particularly true of the ground floor. Commercial use would help sustain a first floor in community/arts use. The building can be physically sub-divided in this way relatively easily.
The flexibility of use and space inherent in the sales approach seems to me by far the most sensible and most practical way ahead.
However, the council will probably need to accept constraints. First, in order to fund community/arts use, the first year income from commercial use would need to be ring fenced to pay for alterations including the provision of a lift to the first floor. This might attract matching grant aid.
Second, starting such a facility is all very well but running it is more difficult. The museum is very close by and they have now included a small gallery. The administration of the town hall could be logically incorporated into their activities.
Cultural use of part of the town hall fits well with the council’s plan in the approved six priorities of the district plan.
The third priority requires the council to ‘build an arts, leisure and cultural reputation that supports our economy’. Many towns are achieving this to the benefit of local residents and visitors and the economy of their towns. Restaurants alone are not enough.
The flexible approach adopted in the marketing proposals for the town hall could enhance the attraction of the town in the surrounding region and district.
Hampers Lane, Horsham