Options for Armstrong Hall and library up for consultation before decisions made on their future

August 24 2017
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THE future of some of Thornbury’s most important community facilities will be determined later this year, with options being considered for the Armstrong Hall and the library.

THE future of some of Thornbury’s most important community facilities will be determined later this year, with options being considered for the Armstrong Hall and the library.

Significant refurbishment of the Armstrong Hall - including the Cossham Hall within the complex - is needed to enable its continued long-term use.

It has led to Thornbury Town Council working with South Gloucestershire Council and the trustees of the Turnberries community centre in Bath Road during the past six months to discuss where community facilities in the town could best be located.

Two options are being considered for the Armstrong Hall, including refurbishing and extending the complex to provide changing rooms and extra multi-purpose meeting space so it can offer the standard of facilities required for the town’s growing population.

The second option would involve building a large hall extension onto Turnberries to create a performance area with stage, changing rooms and extra community meeting space.

If that option was adopted, the Armstrong Hall site would be sold for redevelopment and the proceeds used to part-fund the extension at Turnberries.

Meanwhile, South Gloucestershire Council is also investigating moving the library from its current location into space vacated by a day centre at Turnberries and is seeking views on what effect any move would have on the services available and how local people would access them.

The town council manages the Armstrong Hall and a trust owns the freehold, while South Gloucestershire Council owns Turnberries and leases it to a separate trust to operate.

A decision on both facilities is expected to be taken by the respective councils later in the autumn but before then, a consultation exercise will be run to give people the chance to comment on the proposals.

That will continue throughout September and it is hoped as many people as possible, including members of groups which make use of the premises, will make their views known.

But already there have been concerns raised about any switch of the Armstrong Hall facilities to Turnberries and whether there would be enough room for everyone involved in a stage production - such as performers, stage crew and audiences - especially if other parts of the building were being used for other purposes at the same time. 

Noise levels, busy shared areas and provision of enough public toilets have also been put forward as potential problems.

The Armstrong Hall is currently used by a large number of groups and organisations, from the annual Thornbury Arts Festival and town drama companies to the blood donor service.

They use the main hall and the smaller Cossham Hall - a former Wesleyan chapel - and also have a bar, kitchen and two smaller meeting rooms available to them.

Earlier this year, when the town council said it was starting to look at the future of the facilities, it said the Turnberries site had the potential to accommodate an Armstrong Hall equivalent size space for performances.

It also said further work was needed to explore whether the museum, located in a detached former cottage on the Armstrong Hall site, could also be fitted into Turnberries.

Consultation starts on September 1, when further information about the proposals will be available on www.thornburytowncouncil.gov.uk and comments accepted.

Copies of the consultation survey will also be available from the town hall, library, Armstrong Hall and Turnberries throughout the month.

Views by email should go to info@thornburytowncouncil.gov.uk and people can also phone 01454 412103.