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A public consultation is being launched to let the people of Woodbridge have their say on the future of a historic town centre building.

A four week-long consultation period on the future of The Shire Hall is launching on Friday, June 2, organised by owners Woodbridge Town Council.

It comes after extensive masonry damage to the Grade I-listed building was reported in 2019, with full repair and renovation costs estimated between £1.5m to £2m.

The ground floor is currently home to Woodbridge Town Council and is a popular private hire venue for weddings and other events. The first floor is rented out to a local charity but cannot be used for community events due to accessibility requirements.

Three options have been outlined by the Town Council for the public to vote on.

Cllr Patrick Gillard, Mayor of Woodbridge, said:

“The Shire Hall is one of the most recognisable and historic buildings in our town – and it is only right the public have their say on its future.

“Unfortunately we find ourselves in a position where we must undertake extensive repairs or sell the building in its entirety.

“As stewards of such a symbol of our town’s rich history it is our responsibility to prevent it falling into a state of disrepair.

“We encourage all residents of Woodbridge and the surrounding villages to take part in the consultation.”

The first available option, a restoration, would see the exterior repaired alongside renovations to the interior of the ground floor. This would aim to ensure the building is structurally sound and secure its future along the lines of its current use.

The second is a renovation of the entire building, including the installation of a lift. Such work would allow the first floor to be used for community events or more permanent revenue opportunities like a café or art gallery.

The final option would see the building sold on the open market. This would require the Town Council to relocate, which could reduce running costs – although the ongoing rent of a new office space and the loss of income opportunities through private hire would have to be considered.

A total of £90,000 has been set aside by Woodbridge Town Council to go towards any renovations. The Town Council will continue to look for other opportunities to raise funds.

Further funds could be borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board at a reduced interest rate and repaid through an increase of the Council Tax proportion required by Woodbridge Town Council.

All Woodbridge residents are being sent a consultation document outlining further details about the options available.

A public event will also be held at The Shire Hall on June 9 between 10am and 2pm.