Christchurch councillors to decide on Druitt Hall next week
MEMBERS of Christchurch Council’s Resources Committee will be debating the future of Druitt Hall at their meeting on 25 September.
The management of the Hall was returned to the Council in 2011 and it was initially recommended that, due to the age and dilapidated state of the building, it should be demolished. However, a community group, The Druitt Hall Association, was formed with the purpose of keeping the Hall open and discussions have been ongoing with the Council over recent months.
The Association has put forward a plan initially for the current hall to be refurbished and subsequently for it to be replaced by a new hall. They have a benefactor who has promised to fund both the refurbishment and the new build.
The report to the committee recommends that the Council enters into a three-year lease with the directors of the Druitt Hall Association for the occupation and operation of the existing Druitt Hall so long as a number of terms and conditions are in place by 1 January 2014.
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These conditions include a fully-functioning community interest body being established; a formal agreement by the Association and the benefactor to be completed regarding the underwriting of costs; sufficient funds for refurbishment and operational costs being deposited in the Association’s bank account before initial occupation and lease-signing; and finally that 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.
Matti Raudsepp, Head of Leisure and Open Spaces at the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, 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 Resource Committee to decide that at their meeting.
“The Council needs to ensure that Druitt Hall does not become a burden for the Council Tax payer which is why there are recommendations to include the terms and conditions before entering into a lease agreement with the Association.”