NEW plans for a modern hall at the Priory in Christchurch have been unveiled to residents and parishioners.

A public consultation event on Monday for phase two of the new visitor centre was held at the historic church in Christchurch town centre, with more than 100 people turning out.

The first parts of the redevelopment are already under way in Priory House with new parish offices under construction in the Grade II listed building, as well as a re-located gift shop, refurbished toilets and increased catering facilities. This is due for completion in March.

The latest proposals include plans for a new modern hall at the back of Priory House with a glass front as well as a new museum and toilets in Priory House. To fund the project, the existing Priory Hall in Princess Hall would be sold for housing.

Mike Beams, parish development manager, said the reaction from the public was “generally positive”.

“There was quite a lot of reaction from the neighbours of Priory Hall due to planned redevelopment there and concerns about parking raised,” he said.

“But otherwise there was a variety of comments – some people would like to see some more glass and a few preferred a more traditional design than the more modern design that we have put forward.

“The new hall will go at the back of Priory House and the Priory which allayed some fears it would be built on the grass at the front.

“Proposals for housing at the existing hall site were also on display.”

He said there are already a lot of developers interested in the existing Priory Hall site, with the proposed hall having the same floor area as the present one.

The sale of the site would give long-term income to repair and conserve the historic church. The planning applications – one for the new visitor centre and a linked proposal for the existing Priory Hall – are likely to be submitted later this year.