Town hall windows prove paneful for refurb plans

THE transformation of Royston’s Town Hall into a community cinema has stalled due to a planning hitch.

Work will be held up while a planning application for the installation of 12 double-glazed plastic windows is considered by North Herts District Council.

It was hoped the town council, which pledged �130,000 to the project, would not have to apply for permission.

But as the hall sits in a conservation area NHDC officials are unhappy with the authority’s use of modern materials.

Robert Smith, leader of the council, said: “The conservation officer was not happy with the use of uPVC on a building of significant interest in a conservation area.

“That’s why we had to apply, so it can be discussed.

“It will put us back because of the timescales involved.

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“There’s a planning control committee in January but there isn’t significant time for consultation for that committee – it’s likely it will be February.”

Background work will continue, with members looking into other aspects of cinema provision – such as seating and the maintenance of cinema equipment.

The uPVC windows were chosen as the existing windows are in a poor state of repair and the replacement was the cheapest option.

Royston Town Council has done acoustic tests on the first floor earmarked for the cinema site, and says doubled glazed windows are essential for stopping background noise seeping into the hall.

A spokesman for the district council said: “We now have an application for the windows.

“It has been submitted because the windows, being uPVC, would materially alter the external appearance of the building.”

The refurbishment of the town hall is to be paid for by the town council with business partnership Royston First paying for the cinema equipment, as well as being responsible for the operation of the business.

It was announced earlier this year the facilities would have state-of-the-art audio equipment and 3D capability.

Work was originally scheduled to be completed by March next year.