Fears raised over Armstrong Hall site despite consultation on its future

September 29 2017

CONCERNS have been raised that Thornbury’s Armstrong Hall complex will be sold off and an extended Turnberries community building used as a future performance venue, despite a programme of consultation.

CONCERNS have been raised that Thornbury’s Armstrong Hall complex will be sold off and an extended Turnberries community building used as a future performance venue, despite a programme of consultation.

 A number of local residents have suggested the option is a “done deal” and there are now moves to try and hold a public meeting so there can be a full debate about the issue.

Three drop-in sessions to outline two proposals were held in the town recently as part of a month-long consultation ahead of a decision being made.

The Armstrong Hall - the town’s main performance location - needs significant refurbishment to allow its continued long-term use.

It has seen Thornbury Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council working together for the past seven months, along with trustees of Turnberries in Bath Road, to discuss where community facilities in the town could best be located.

One option would be to refurbish and extend the Armstrong Hall to provide changing rooms and extra multi-purpose meeting space.

The second proposal would involve building a large hall extension onto Turnberries to create a performance area with stage, changing rooms and extra community meeting space, selling the Armstrong Hall site for redevelopment and using the proceeds to part-fund the extension at Turnberries.

Questions have also been asked about ownership of any performance hall at Turnberries as South Gloucestershire Council owns the building, while the town council manages the Armstrong Hall and a trust owns the freehold.

Among users of the Armstrong Hall is the Thornbury Arts Festival committee, which said it would prefer a new purpose built development on the current site in Chapel Street.  

In its submitted comments to the consultation, it said the option for Turnberries was “not ambitious enough” and gave the impression that too much was being crammed into a small area.

It had concerns about limited foyer space and the capacity of the bigger of two halls, which it said was not viable for arts festival events.

It said it was “disappointed by this proposal” and feared that if the Turnberries option went ahead, the festival would no longer be able to bring the quality of performances to the town that residents had come to expect.

A decision of the future of the facilities is set to be taken later in the autumn, when it has been said the views of local people will be considered.