Wiltshire Council has reiterated its intention to reopen City Hall as an entertainment venue as it is at an advanced stage of hiring a specialist company to market the venue to prospective organisations on a long lease.

It comes after online speculation about the City Hall losing its Asset of Community Value status, something the Journal reported on earlier this year

The council has now issued another update on the venue following this speculation, saying it  is in the process of finalising the appointment of a market provider to market City Hall on its behalf.

This market provider will help in identifying suitable organisations who are best placed to enter a lease longer than 25 years and subsequently enable the future success of the City Hall.

A stipulation for prospective operators is that the venue remains as an entertainment venue.

Once an appropriate operator is appointed, Wiltshire Council will retain the overall ownership of the venue.

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Councillor Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We see the City Hall as an integral part of Salisbury’s future, and our sole focus is to secure an appropriate external operator who will reopen and manage it on our behalf as a thriving entertainment venue which complements our long-term vision for the city.

“We are aware that there has been a little confusion created due to the legal process that we must go through in order to grant a long lease. We did clarify this at the time in January, but the formal wording of this process, the ‘intention to enter into a relevant disposal’ of the site, is just part of the statutory procedure of us informing the Local Planning Authority of our intentions. I reiterate that we are not looking to sell the venue or change the site for another purpose, we remain committed to reopening it as an entertainment venue.

“I will be meeting with the Friends of the City Hall group to speak to them about the process we’re following to reopen and take any questions they may have.

“We are entering into the advanced stages of a detailed procurement process and finalising the appointment of a market provider to help us engage with potential operators very soon.”

Wiltshire Council has provided a brief written update for the Salisbury Area Board meeting taking place on Thursday, March 7, but stakeholders will be kept up to date when further details can be confirmed.

Information on City Hall can also be found here.