THE future of plans to revamp the town hall in Fordingbridge are to be discussed after concerns were raised over the scheme.

The proposals would see internal alterations to the building to accommodate tourist information staff as well as council staff under one roof, re-instatement of a new rear door and a lift installed.

Currently, the tourist information is located in Kings Yard and the building is leased by the town council.

Also read: Plans submitted for Fordingbridge Town Hall

Speaking at this month's full town council meeting, Fordingbridge mayor Cllr Edward Hale said further discussions were needed about the town hall plans.

He said the lease for the tourist information office in King's Yard was due to be reviewed in April of next year giving the council a year "to decide what we're going to do".

"There is a danger we'll just drift into renewing it again with no decision," he added.

"I strongly believe the town council operation should be based at the town hall. We can give our staff better working conditions here and we can avoid renting other accommodation in the town that way.

"But the scheme we've been investigating although there would be lots of advantages I think there are more concerns about what we've been looking at."

The meeting heard the conservation officer at New Forest District Council had expressed opposition to removing original features from the listed building and linking new structures to the existing ones.

Also read: Concerns over 'cumulative effect' of proposed work to town hall

The loss of space in the main hall had also been a concern and previously raised by Cllr Malcolm Adams and a member of the public.

In August of last year, the application was recommended for approval to New Forest District by the town council’s planning committee with eight votes in support and three against.

Also read: Plans to revamp town hall a 'retrograde step'

Cllr Hale also said the cost of the scheme was also "getting much higher" than anticipated and his preference would be for a "reduced scheme".

He suggested moving the main office into the council chamber and having the tourist office in its place downstairs.  

"The size has been more important recently because of social distancing," added Cllr Hale.

But he said the challenges would be to improve access to the first floor.

He said: "I hope we can maybe look again at what we're going to do and hopefully try and get a solution that we can bring forward within a reasonable period."

This is due to be discussed at a finance and policy meeting on Wednesday February 23.

To view or comment on the application visit: (application ref 21/10980 and 21/10981).


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