Corn Hall sale secures future of community events

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Corn Hall sale secures future of community events

Cotswold District Council has agreed the sale of Cirencester's Corn Hall to Wildmoor Properties in a deal that secures its future use by the community.

The Council has achieved a sale price of £650,000 for the 19th Century building, with an agreement from Wildmoor to also invest in excess of £500,000 on repairs and refurbishment. The price was agreed following an independent valuation.

Contracts have now been exchanged and it is planned that completion will take place in March, at which time the full details of the negotiated agreements and covenants will be available to the public through the Land Registry.

The detailed contract agreeing the sale by private treaty ensures that antique and craft markets will continue at the venue for at least 35 years and that evening entertainment will continue indefinitely.

The Council-run Visitor Information Centre will also remain at the Corn Hall, unless the authority chooses to relocate it.

Wildmoor Properties, which owns the adjoining King's Head Hotel, is planning to restore historic links between the two buildings to create a first-class hotel for the town.

Portfolio holder for Property & Benefits Cllr Nicholas Parsons said: "We are delighted that we have been able to exchange contracts after a detailed and lengthy process of negotiation.

"In a sale such as this, where the Council has been able to find a special purchaser, there are clear benefits in a sale by private treaty. Firstly, we have been able to protect the future of community events for the public, after consulting residents and regular users on the type of events they would like to see continued at the venue.

"Secondly, the deal will bring about enhancement of the Corn Hall without placing a burden on the council tax payer.

"Thirdly, we have been able to secure an advantageous price for the Council by selling to a purchaser who has a special interest in the building due to their ownership of the adjoining hotel. The agreed sale price exceeds the price which the Council was advised would be achievable through an open market sale.

"This is a good deal for the people of the Cotswolds and we look forward to seeing the Corn Hall restored to its former glory."

Contracts have now been exchanged and the deal is set to be completed by the end of March 2007.

Wildmoor Properties Director Mark Booth said: "After many months of detailed negotiations we are please that contracts have now been exchanged. The merging of the Kings Head and Corn Hall ownerships offers a unique and exciting opportunity to enhance both assets for the benefit of the town. It is our intention to preserve the existing community uses within the Hall itself and we are pleased that we are able to keep the Antiques and Craft Markets. We hope that we will also be able to identify other opportunities to maximise the use of the Hall throughout the year."

The Hotel is due to close at the end of January and work will commence shortly thereafter on a comprehensive refurbishment. Re-opening is currently scheduled for late Spring 2008. A planning application will be submitted within the next four weeks for the proposed works to the Hall building and the connecting passage.

Works to the Corn Hall will be coordinated to ensure the period during which it is closed is kept to a minimum. It is proposed that the scheme will comprise the refurbishment of the Hall as well as the conversion of the rooms fronting onto the passage to form retail units aimed at complementing the Visitor Information centre and the daytime function of the hall. The creation of these active frontages will enhance the approach to the Hall itself.

Officers from the Council and representatives of Wildmoor Properties will continue to meet regularly after the sale to ensure the conditions of the contract are met.

The antique and craft markets will be able to trade throughout the refurbishment by temporarily relocating to the King's Head. The sale contract ensures that if the market operators wish to return to the Corn Hall following refurbishment they can do so.

Cotswold District Council will continue to manage the markets and other activities for the next couple of months, with a handover to Wildmoor Properties on completion. Bookings made until the end of March will be honoured. Until the handover is complete, further bookings will only be made for day time use.

Posted : 25/01/2007 10:51:55

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