Owner’s reassurance over future of Lowestoft town hall after criticism by heritage campaigners
- Credit: James Bass
The owner of Lowestoft's town hall has said it is committed to ensuring it is retained for community use after heritage campaigners criticised how the majority of the building had been left vacant for nearly a year.
The 159-year-old building served as headquarters for Waveney District Council until the majority of staff moved out last year to the authority's new Riverside building in Canning Road, Lowestoft.
In a statement last year it said a decision would be made on the town hall's future by summer 2015.
But nearly a year on, the Grade-II Listed building remains vacant - with local historians claiming it has been 'abandoned' and allowed to deteriorate.
Waveney District Council leader Colin Law said the site is 'being considered as part of the discussions regarding the possible establishment of town or parish councils for Lowestoft'.
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The council is in advanced discussions with a number of parties interested in redeveloping the remainder of the site, he said, with the intention of bringing economic benefit to the north end of the town.
However local historian and author Ian Robb said the council deserved criticism over its handling of the
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building, given it is 'an important part of the town's 800-year-old history'.
One window has been already boarded up and wooden window frames are disintegrating.
However Mr Law said it was 'completely untrue to suggest that Waveney has in any way abandoned the town hall' and that it only ceased to be an operational council building in February.
He said maintenance work was being carried out to ensure no further deterioration, including window refurbishment, re-plastering and inspections of the heating system, whilst other repairs would be addressed as part of any future negotiation process.
He said the town hall was inspected and the fire alarm was tested at least weekly and the intruder alarm and fire extinguishers were still being maintained.
Mr Law also said items of interest and value had been place in environmentally-controlled storage ahead of a separate decision about their long-term future.
John Stannard, of Lowestoft Civic Society, said the state of the building was getting worse and should never have been left empty.
He added: 'A building that has served the town like that deserves much more dignity and respect. The whole building is a treasure.'
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