A “SIMPLER” scheme to revamp Fordingbridge’s town hall is to be explored after costs have risen.

The town hall was discussed by Fordingbridge Town Council’s finance and policy committee on Wednesday of last week.

Town mayor, Cllr Edward Hale pushed for the council to make a decision on how to move forward with the scheme for the town hall.

The original plans submitted to New Forest District Council proposed internal alterations to the listed building to accommodate tourist information staff as well as council staff under one roof, re-instatement of a new rear door and the installation of a lift.

The council currently lease the information centre building in Kings Yard.

However, the conservation officer, a previous meeting heard, had expressed opposition to removing original features from the listed building and linking new structures to the existing ones.

The plans had also attracted concerns from Cllr Malcolm Adam and a member of the public over the loss of space in the main hall.

The meeting heard the cost of the original scheme was £168,000 but there would be an additional cost of £26,000 to accommodate suggestions from the conservation officer.

Cllr Edward Hale said work was also needed on the roof and added: “My thoughts are now we should be looking at a reduced scheme. Just to do the more critical things.”

“It is whether we should be moving forward,” he added.

Committee chairman Cllr Adams suggested contacting roofing companies for quotes, which Cllr Anna Wilson felt was “worth investigating”.

This, Cllr Hale said, was “something we can get on with now” and fixing the roof was a “critical thing”.

Cllr Wilson proposed the council investigate the costs of the roof work.

While Cllr Hale added he would also like the council to explore a “simpler” scheme for the town hall and explained work would be needed to the toilets and possibly a lift.

“I don’t think we need to do a lot more than that really,” he continued. “We’re drifting along, we know we can’t afford to do it.”

Information office staff could be accommodated, the meeting heard, by taking a wall out in the office at the town hall to create a bigger space.

The committee agreed to look into getting work done on the roof and explore a “simpler” scheme for the town hall.

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


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