Concerns have been raised over early proposals for a £3million revamp of Brackley’s 300-year-old town hall.
Last week Brackley Town Council released details of their plans to secure the future viability of the town hall.
Architects have drawn up plans which include commercial space on the ground floor, a public meeting space on the first floor with improved access and catering facilities, and office or self catering accommodation in the attic space.
The council warned there were still many challenges to overcome before a final plan could be decided, not least of which will be finding space for a lift and sources of funding.
In a statement, Brackley Residents’ Association said while they accepted the need for essential maintenance they were worried that community groups for the elderly and disabled will be put off using the town hall if they have to access the first floor space via a lift and feared what would happen in an emergency if the lift fails.
They are also concerned about commercial aspects of the current proposals and called for greater transparency.
The association added: “Can we now have more open discussion about the future of this much-loved building which surely is already paid for by Brackley’s council taxpayers?” Brackley mayor Peter Rawlinson said: “The development of the town hall is an exciting opportunity for Brackley that will not only maintain the fabric of this iconic Wren-inspired building for future generations to enjoy, but will contribute to the regeneration of the town centre.
“I often see people struggling up the stairs to the first floor and refusing to use the chair lift. We must do better.”
Mr Rawlinson said the changes would also meet current safety legislation and added: “The concerns of local residents are valid, but the council, through Ingham Pinnock Associates, has already consulted extensively with a variety of user groups.
“The council remains committed to continuing consultation throughout the development process but also needs to ensure the long-term financial viability of the building.
“Everyone is welcome to attend all town council meetings, held during the evening on the first and third Mondays in the month, when time is set aside for residents to make any points.”
>> Turn to page 21 for this week’s Your Opinion on the Brackley Town Hall improvements.