It’s time to raise issue again

PUBLISHED: 11:20 15 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010

Royston Town Hall

Royston Town Hall

NOTHING can stop Royston Town Hall being demolished. But it s not as though it is going to happen. Well not yet, anyway. It was, however, one of the issues raised during a discussion on Monday evening when members of Royston Town Council s planning comm

NOTHING can stop Royston Town Hall being demolished.

But it's not as though it is going to happen.

Well not yet, anyway.

It was, however, one of the issues raised during a discussion on Monday evening when members of Royston Town Council's planning committee were considering whether it should be seen as a building of local interest.

It does not mean - and this has to be emphasised - that the old Victorian building will become listed and, therefore, be protected.

But the building will be given a certain status in the proposed Royston conservation area.

Or as Cllr Rod Kennedy said on Monday evening: "There's nothing to stop it being demolished. It's not a listed building."

He is quite right.

By being seen as a building of local interest does not mean that there will be restrictions on the building in the future.

And as we know there are supposed to be plans for the town hall site as a whole.

Or perhaps it would be more truthful to say that there have been plans for the site for almost the past 20 years.

Indeed, there are three reports, at least, in the hands of the town council over development to the site.

And North Herts District Council has had consultants look at proposals on more than one occasion.

Cllr Mayne was quite right, too, when he said: "Nothing is going to change our position."

But that didn't answer the question about the town council's position: whether it is still adopting proposals from the past or looking to introduce a new policy.

Although the committee eventually decided that the town hall should be included in the list of buildings of local interest it lost an opportunity to put its case for the site.

It could have expanded the discussion and raised the question yet again about the future of the site.

There would be nothing wrong in emphasising its case for the building of what has been described in some quarters as a civic centre.

The proposals which have been around for years include developing the site to include a civic building which will include a multi-purpose hall: the kind of place which can be adapted for drama and dance productions and to be used as a cinema, as well as for other events.

There would be space for meeting rooms - one of which may come to be described as a council chamber - and administration offices.

There has been a desire, too, to either gut the town hall and transfer the Royston Museum to the site or develop a new museum and gallery on the site.

Earlier proposals saw the site being used, too, to create a new health centre and a local base for North Herts District Council.

The suggestions have been the subject for reports and discussions over the years - and nothing has happened.

But seeing as a town centre strategy is now being discussed there was a chance for the planning committee to make such overtures about the site in its response to the question over the town hall becoming a building of local interest.

To raise such an issue now would have done no harm whatsoever - and ensured that the town council is seen as a key player over the future of the site. After all, it does actually own the town hall.

Perhaps it is time to look at those reports from the past and really ensure that, at last, the issue over the future of the town hall site is not simply yet again an exercise which is met by empty promises.

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