Community group still in negotiations over Baldock Town Hall

Baldock Town Hall

Baldock Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A GROUP which formed to take over a town hall is still locked in negotiations with a council to agree on the conditions of the lease.

Alison Gentle, chairman of the Baldock Town Hall Group (BTHG), spoke to members of North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Cabinet at a meeting last week, where it was unanimously agreed by members to spend £50,000 on the building for essential repairs to bring it back into community use.

Mrs Gentle said: “We are just awaiting some final changes in wording to the lease on one remaining point concerning lease review periods and we should be there.”

A 99-year lease is being proposed by NHDC, plus five-yearly rent reviews to recognise the fact that the group could change over time, and it might become more commercial in its outlook than currently proposed.

The council would like to reserve the right that, should this happen, and the BTHG, or its successors, start to make a significant commercial income, NHDC will be able to implement a rent review and take a higher rent rather than receiving below market rent for the whole length of the lease.

The group has already planned and scheduled a programme of events, with a regular comedy club, kids and adult cinema clubs and a couple of concerts lined up for the summer.

A story-telling festival is also set to be held in October, where there will be two weeks of events with the town hall being the central hub.

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Mrs Gentle said: “We have undertaken quite a sizeable project to bring Baldock Town Hall back into community use. We envisage a vibrant arts and heritage centre in the middle of Baldock town as an asset to Baldock and the renovation work that has been undertaken here recently.

“We look forward to a full programme of events to complement those already being carried out by various community groups in Baldock.”

Mrs Gentle said the group would have liked to have occupied the hall by now.

The town hall on Baldock High Street has stood empty for more than three years and the group formed in a bid to use it for the arts, as well as for education and training purposes.

Further discussions about the lease will take place between members of the full council at a meeting held this evening (Thursday).