Council looking at future options for iconic Grade I listed hall
A Suffolk town council is exploring options for its Grade I listed offices.
Woodbridge Town Council has begun considering the future of the town's Shire Hall, where the authority is based and holds its regular meetings.
The building was built by Thomas Seckford in around 1575.
Over the years it has served a number of purposes, including as a corn exchange with the upper area used for judicial work.
It was bought by Woodbridge Town Council in 1987 and is still used by the council as well as being hired out for event use. The upstairs area of the building is rented by the Seckford Foundation.
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Over the years, the building has required a number of repairs and it is this concern about the ongoing cost of such repairs that has led to questions over whether the council should keep the building.
Councillors discussed their next steps at the town council's meeting on Tuesday.
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"Obviously this is one of Woodbridge's iconic buildings," said councillor Martin Sylvester.
"I just wonder where are we going with this, what is the need to take the town council out of such a prestigious building."
Mayor Sue Bale said that no definite decision had been made on the future of the building but said it was important they took an "exploratory path" to consider options.
"I think we are looking at a fairly hefty repair bill coming in which we haven't had yet," said Ms Bale.
"So at some point we are going to have to decide whether it's financially viable for us to pay for the repairs.
"We will have to decide what to do. Whether the scale of the repairs is just too much and whether the building is still fit for purpose or whether we decide to get rid of it."
Councillors had been asked to vote on whether planning applications be put in to East Suffolk Council for retail, hospitality and residential uses of the building.
If any of these were to be accepted it would help a valuation be made on the building's current worth.
Councillor Geoff Holdcroft suggested that the council instead seek pre-planning advice from East Suffolk Council.
The council agreed to this and will continue to look at its options for the future.