Proposals for the future use of a landmark building will be assessed by an independent expert.
Staffordshire County Council will appoint an outside group to consider and examine the long term feasibility of ideas for the future use of Shire Hall, Stafford, including those put forward by several interested groups.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Economic Growth, said:
The county council is committed to maintaining and preserving Shire Hall for future generations, by finding ways to ensure the building is busy, successful and able to sustain itself without placing a financial burden on local taxpayers, while contributing to the wider regeneration of Stafford town centre.
Several interested parties have suggested different ways the Shire Hall could be used in future and their ideas involve varying financial contributions from different sources.
We want a solution that will work over many years, so we will appoint an independent expert to look closely at these ideas and others, to examine their feasibility and financial viability.”
Ideas made public so far include using the space for an arts gallery and café, a museum devoted to the history of women’s emancipation and a museum dedicated to the history of the Royal Air Force.
The county council is following a path suggested by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), which is a national authority on identifying regenerative uses for old and historic buildings.
The trust, founded by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, produced a report for the county council detailing the steps necessary to find a sustainable long term use for the building. The PRT report is available here .
As well as suggesting possible short term uses for the building, the report’s authors noted that any significant alteration could be a time-consuming process involving various national conservation bodies and funding agencies.
Shire Hall, built in the 1790s, is still heated and caretakers are inspecting it regularly to keep maintenance up-to-date.
Mark Winnington said:
This is a complex process and we want to ensure we get it right. The independent experts will start work as soon as possible and our next steps will be guided by them.”