Councillor calls for rethink on Blandford Corn Exchange plans
A LEADING town councillor has called for a rethink by Blandford Town Council on its multi-million pound plan to refurbish the town's Corn Exchange and rebuild its town council offices.
Planning committee chairman Mike Owen said he had two reasons for asking for the matter to be on the agenda for the next town council meeting.
One was the objections by statutory consultees, particularly English Heritage, to the planning application approved in principle by North Dorset District Council late last year.
The objections resulted in the scheme being referred to the Secretary of State for a ruling, still to be decided, on whether there should be a public inquiry.
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He said the district's conservation officer was also an objector to the application, and the town council's own former architects had raised an issue over the stability of the building on which it is planned to add three storeys
They had also pointed out that the town council had spent over £100,000 on the project so far, not including the salary of its project officer, and little or nothing on repair and maintenance.
Mr Owen said: "The proposed three floors above the community room will presumably be for hire. There are in the Parish Centre three various sized rooms, and both nearby churches let their premises, and in local villages there are village halls which hold events. The one facility only available in the Corn Exchange is a large hall with a stage, and the suggestion is that the stage should go."
He said using the hall for films shows a failure to take into account the development of film viewing at home on large flat screens, and the need for cinemas to have large car parks and multi-screens.
"We have never had a detailed look at this proposal, and have spent more time on looking at plans for a single storey extension in Damory Street," he added.