Parish council's unwanted HQ could be used as flats
COUNCIL headquarters in St Agnes could be sold off or turned into flats after members declared the building no longer fit for purpose.
The former Lloyds Bank on Vicarage Road underwent extensive work to house St Agnes Parish Council, which moved there in 1999.
But the building has recently proved too small, with residents attending packed meetings being pinned against walls and even asked to leave over fears of a fire hazard.
Council clerk, Sue Herman, said: "We have closed a meeting, but several times we have had to up sticks and move to a larger venue, either the Scout hut or the Masonic Hall at Rosemundy so that the meeting can continue." Now councillors have tasked a working party to find alternative sites within the parish.
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Councillor Jim Noonan said the stone building, which also has a first floor flat leased by the council, was valued at £350,000, way below the £500,000 it had hoped for, because the building has no parking or garden.
But he told members at its meeting it would prove too costly to adapt the existing rooms and relocating was its best option.
"We looked at extending the parish hall and putting the offices upstairs in the flat. But it wasn't cost effective as it would need a lift to the first floor and a new disabled toilet."
Councillor Cyril Kent urged members to consider revamping the building as buying property elsewhere would cost more than would be earned selling up. But Councillor Dawn Brown said new build was often significantly cheaper than carrying out alterations, adding: "There will be continuing maintenance costs. We should consider a new build rather than fitting new equipment to a building not designed for it or fit for purpose."
Sharing the Scout hut facilities was rejected but the Miners' and Mechanics' Institute was flagged up as a possible base, with Councillor Dennis Howland saying: "We have the perfect building next door. It has office space, and a large hall. With negotiations it may be a simple, cheap alternative to this building."
Councillor Gerry Jones agreed, adding: "Let's see what can be done." Mr Howland also said the parish rooms could be turned into flats for rent providing income, rather than selling them off.
Chairman Eugene Hope said it would consider all viable sites within the parish, not just St Agnes.
"The council used to be in The Opie, a first floor room next to Costcutters, where councillors had an attic rope ladder to be used in case of a fire. The Lloyds building has done us proud but we need to move on."