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Monday 24 May 2021

Kingston Council’s leader has promised the town’s historic Guildhall will not be demolished

The authority is looking at selling it to a developer with the option of turning it into a boutique hotel.

It says it can’t justify the £14 million needed to make it environmentally sustainable.  

But non-political campaign group, “Save Royal Kingston,” is trying to get the building listed as an “Asset of Community Value” so that the site is protected from development and alteration. 

Council Leader Caroline Kerr says this is completely unnecessary.

Kingston Council statement in full: 

“Our plans for a heritage-led regeneration of the Guildhall complex are about protecting, refurbishing and retrofitting the Grade II listed building and giving it a sustainable future, while ensuring the community enjoys much more access to it than is currently the case. We will not countenance any decision that does not guarantee public access to the listed building and there are absolutely no plans to demolish it.

“While the listed building is currently only really used for council meetings, the other two council buildings on the complex are under-utilised and have been largely vacant for some time – even before the COVID-19 crisis struck. Not only are all the buildings energy inefficient, it also costs us around £4m a year to maintain them and it would cost around £36m to retrofit the whole complex. This is not a sensible use of local taxpayers’ money when the Council should be focused on providing services for residents.

“We are exploring the option for a boutique hotel to potentially move into the listed building – a proposal that would strengthen the tourism and leisure economy in Kingston at a time of considerable economic challenge. In addition, we are examining the potential for commercial offices and housing – including affordable homes – to be offered on the site rather than expensive and underused council buildings.

“Whatever the final proposals, improved community use of the site is essential to us. As well as ensuring there is guaranteed public access to the listed building and investing £1.2m to make the nearby Market House an accessible space once again, we are also exploring the potential for a new public park on the complex with improved connections to the Hogsmill River.

“As this is a heritage-led project, any proposals will also give careful consideration to the future of the Coronation Stone and ensure continued public access to this crucial part of our borough’s history.

“Once detailed plans have been developed, they will come back to the Council for councillors to vote upon.”

posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 8:34 am  

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