Festival Hall work to cost at least £11m

By The Post  
Thursday 2nd December 2021 12:16 pm
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The Festivall Hall could be covered with energy saving cladding

 

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THE cost of modernising and ‘future proofing’ seven ‘zones’ of the combined Festival and Town Hall stands at more than £11m so far.

Petersfield Town Council owns the 1930s building, and says surveys have shown it is in desperate need of restoration and that it is no longer fit for purpose, being nearly 90 years old.

The proposed restoration work will include rewiring, new plumbing, roofing work and potentially cladding the building.

The council also aims to make it as energy efficient and carbon neutral as possible, and is considering a range of energy-efficiency measures.

Week by week in the Post the council has been outlining the work in each zone, and this week Cllr Paul Milner reveals the work entailed in Zones Six and Seven.

Zone Six encompasses the town hall and small hall, including the entrance foyer, visitors’ centre, council offices and council chambers.

Options for this area include enlarging the existing first- floor council chamber, modernising the toilets, turning the first-floor small hall into a ‘performance’ space, and creating council offices and meeting rooms.

Cllr Milner said: “Although this area is more to do with the town council activities and in some ways an aside to the Festival Hall itself, it is part of the oldest building and equally in need of restoration.

“The small town hall can also be used for private functions and entertainment.”

Currently some of the first-floor office is rented to local businesses and this is set to continue, bringing in revenue for the council.

Other parts of this zone will provide the necessary space for the running of the town council.

Cllr Milner added: “Early feedback from the consultation on this part of the building has highlighted the public’s appreciation of the art-deco look, and its status as an iconic Petersfield building, and many want this preserved and enhanced.

“Although not a listed building, the town hall does have a ‘non-designated heritage asset’ status that also supports this sympathetic approach.

“This is an added complexity to the aims of making the project as carbon neutral as possible, but it’s not insurmountable.”

Zone Seven on the north of the building overlooks the open-air swimming pool, and is above the planned new entrance. The Festival Hall chambers area hosts the green room, chorus dressing rooms, toilets, store rooms, and has a multi-use 100sq metre community space, and smaller 50sq metre space. It also has its own smaller first-floor foyer.

Proposed work here includes the bar being moved into the foyer of the new entrance, and other spaces created.

Cllr Milner said: “Currently some of this area is being rented and this could continue or, in time, be used for the wider community event hire.

“Along with zones One to Five, the combined cost of the work for these seven zones would be £11,307,000.”

A final phase of work, Zone Eight, would see the outside of the building landscaped.

Money for the ambitious proposals has yet to be found, although the council says it will try to cover much of the cost through grants and developer contributions.

But borrowing from low-cost lenders like the government’s Public Works Loans Board hasn’t been ruled out – a loan residents might have to repay through increased council tax.

The council has already agreed to spend up to £750,000 on surveys, plans and preparatory work for the project.

For details visit the website at https://www.petersfield-tc.gov.uk/

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