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Druitt Hall campaigners face new decision over facility’s future
PARTY: Supporters of Druitt Hall hold an event to celebrate 60 years of the building in Christchurch
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for Christchurch’s Druitt Hall could have three years to make their plans a success as part of new council proposals.
Dedicated supporters of the facility celebrated earlier this year when outline plans for a new community hall on the site of the existing hall were given the green light by councillors.
But less than three months on, Christchurch Borough Council said the future of the site remains unknown, and members of the Druitt Hall Association will have the opportunity to test their business plan as part of new arrangements.
A new report that will be heard by the council’s resources committee today recommends the council enter into a three-year lease with the directors of the association for the occupation and operation of the existing Druitt Hall so long as a number of terms and conditions are in place by January 1 2014.
But the association has not been given any guarantees for the future of the hall following the three-year period, and Matti Raudsepp, head of leisure and open spaces at the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, said it would be “premature” to comment further.
“Whatever happens to the hall in the future will be part of the wider revised town centre strategy,” he said.
“The Druitt Hall Association have some very ambitious plans for Druitt Hall and the council recognises the efforts being made by the Association.
“If they wish to manage the existing hall in the short term without any cost to the council, then it would seem right for the council to consider that wish and it will be for the members of the resources committee to decide that at their meeting.”
He said “time will tell” as to whether the association’s business plan is a success.
“The association was absolutely entitled to put a planning application in,” he said.
“But the application refers to a council-owned asset on council land. We have always been consistent in our position that it’s not our preferred location (for a new hall).”
Rules of development
The report to the Committee recommends the following conditions:
- A fully-functioning community interest body is established.
- An elected member of the council serves on the executive body of the association.
- Should it subsequently be decided that the building of a new hall should go ahead, sufficient funding to meet the full cost of any new build should be deposited in the association’s bank account before any demolition of the old hall or new build starts.
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