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Businessman asks for new lease on Druitt Hall
A businessman has written to Christchurch Council chiefs asking them to lease him Druitt Hall so he can give it a new lease of life for the community.
Lawyers for Dr Alistair Ford say he wants take up the lease on the town centre building on April 1 for three years. He would then refurbish it at his own expense within eight weeks.
Last week, campaigners persuaded the planning committee not to agree to the council’s own request to demolish the town centre facility which they say is well used and much needed in the town centre.
Dr Ford, who has supported the campaign, also wants to see a new centre built in Druitt Gardens as a replacement in the longer term.
He says following its construction he would transfer his interest to a charitable body that would be responsible for its future management and maintenance.
He told the Echo: “I have made these offers to the council, through my solicitors, in good faith and I hope the council takes this seriously.
“I’d like to think they have taken heed of public opinion and that they will negotiate with me in good faith.”
Dr Ford’s solicitor, Lionel Fynn of Horsey Lightly Fynn confirmed that the letter has been sent to the Civic Offices.
“He is very keen to ensure that the current Druitt Hall remains open for the use of residents while plans are advanced for a new hall nearby,” he said.
The refurbishment would include new kitchen and toilet facilities, replacing the current flooring and decorating inside and out.
Strategic Director of the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, Neil Farmer said: “The Council has received correspondence from representatives of Dr Alistair Somerville-Ford and will give the proposals contained in the letter due consideration.
Any decision regarding a potential lease of the Hall would need to go before the council’s Resources Committee for determination.”
Chairman led firm for 17 years
Dr Alistair Ford is chairman of the global training company ICM – Institute of Commercial Management.
The company, which is now based at Ringwood after 17 years in Christchurch, is an awarding and examining body for business and management students.
Dr Ford is also an international consultant specialising in business, tourism and human resource development, giving technical advice and assistance to trade associations, government departments and agencies.
He received a special award from Prince Charles in 2001 acknowledging his many years of work in the field of heritage and conservation of historic buildings.