Green light for Stalbridge hub
STALBRIDGE is to get its own community-led headquarters, incorporating a volunteer-run library, council and community offices and meeting rooms.
The plans, which include the creation of affordable housing, received unanimous support from the town council last week.
Councillor Tony Bishop outlined the way the scheme would work at a town council meeting, which was attended by 15 members of the public.
Dorset County Council has agreed to sell the freehold of the library building to Stalbridge Town Council for £1. A strip of land next to it, owned by North Dorset District Council, has also been sold to the town for £1.
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Synergy Housing Association is to buy the existing town council office building at 8 Ring Street from the town council and convert it into two affordable housing units. Section 106 money amounting to £140,000 (which has to be allocated by the end of this year) will go towards creating up to four more units.
The existing library will then be extended to accommodate the new council offices and meeting rooms. Capital funding for the building work will come from the sale of 8 Ring Street to Synergy for £75,000, grants of £27,500 and just over £77,000 from the legacy left to the council by Stalbridge resident Tim Stone.
A Stalbridge community trust will be set up as a registered charity to manage the scheme.
Cllr Bishop said: "Everything flowed from the Shaping Stalbridge Day, held in March 2011. We are aiming to provide a one-stop service for the town and keep the library open. But the library cannot exist on its own – it needs people to run it."
Tim Lee, chairman of the Friends of Stalbridge Library reported that training was already under way. He said: "The commitment of the residents of Stalbridge is huge – I have a list of 64 people who have offered to help in the library. We are not sure when the handover will happen, but we are confident that we will be trained and ready."
He also said the opening hours would be extended to include a lunchtime period and evening opening.
Cllr Bishop presented figures for the running costs of the hub, which showed it could be virtually self-financing. He concluded: "I feel this can be made to work, providing a hub that the people of Stalbridge and the surrounding villages can be proud of."
After several questions about the financing, a vote was taken to approve going forward with the scheme. It was passed unanimously and building work is expected to start in the New Year.
Town Council Chairman Graham-Carr Jones said: "I want to put on record my thanks to all of the members of the hub working party for their hard work and dedication which has brought this community-driven project to this crucial stage."
He also confirmed that the remainder of the Tim Stone legacy (around £70,000) will be available for use in the community. He said: "Through imaginative ideas and lateral thinking this leaves Stalbridge in a fantastic position to be able to fund more projects in our community."
Suggestions for a name for the hub are being sought, and can be emailed to email@example.com