POOLE Civic Centre will be kept for the town and not sold off – according to BCP council leader Cllr Drew Mellor.

He says the site will continue for ‘community use’ – although when pressed, has a broad definition of the phrase, which may include a hotel or nursing home on part of the site.

“It will not be sold while I am the leader of the council…this Conservative administration will not dispose of this asset…we will not sell the building. We will get the best community use we can,” he told the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.

Current proposals include the Dorset coroner’s team using part of the building with an area set aside for the Poole Charter Trustees, which includes the Mayor’s office.

Around £1m is likelyto be needed to adapt the listed building for the two organisations.

Cllr Mellor said future uses for the rest of the site were likely to still be under consideration for some time with the council’s Future Spaces team asked to investigate suitable solutions.

Poole town ward councillor Mark Howell said it was a disgrace that, in his opinion, the working party on the building’s future had not been fully listened to and said local people were worried that future decisions might be taken without Poole’s views being taken fully into account.

Cllr Vikki Slade said the building had many rooms which could be put to community use and said there was concern over whether the listed centre would be retained in its entirety or partly disposed of.

Another Poole councillor, Andy Hadley, described the building’s energy efficiency as “awful” with single glazed metal framed windows and poor insulation throughout.

He said that although the adjoining car park had been fitted with solar panels in 2015, capable of providing 25% of the site’s energy needs, the power the panels generated was being sold to the grid and then bought back – when it could have been connected directly to the Civic Centre.

A report by Matti Raudsepp, BCP Council director of customer and business delivery, proposes that BCP keeps the freehold of the site and remodels a section of it for use as a civic building.

“The use of the building by the coroners service alongside the mayoralty function, located in the heart of Poole, presents a viable future for the retained building,” said his report.

Cabinet, when it meets on October 27th, will be asked to agree a £1.07 million budget for the project, which includes a 17.5 per cent contingency element.

£350,000 has already been allocated to moving the coroners service from the former Bournemouth Town Hall, leaving cabinet members to decide on an additional £657,000.

Mr Raudsepp’s report says the other section of Poole Civic Centre and the wider site could be vacant for more than a year, with local authority operations all moving to the “BCP Civic Centre” in Bournemouth by next May.