FALMOUTH Town Council could realise its dream of owning the freehold to Falmouth’s 19th century Muncipal Buildings sooner than expected if Cornwall Council agrees to hand it over.
It has long been an aspiration of Falmouth Town Council to take control of the building and now it appears the transfer will take place in April, a year sooner than expected, after Cornwall Council’s finance and resources portfolio advisory committee recommended it.
As well as the Municipal Buildings on The Moor, the town council will also take ownership of the former toilet block on Webber Street, which it wants to transform into an extension to the town’s art gallery.
A condition of the transfer, though, will be that the library on the ground floor is leased back to Cornwall Council on a 125 year lease at zero rent so the service can be retained. Cornwall |Council will have to pay a proportion of the town council’s costs of running the building.
The transfer of the buildings seeks to retain the site in public ownership and facilitate a more tailored approach to building maintenance and management which can be provided by the town council.
Having the buildings in its ownership will also enable the town council to apply for grant funding for future |refurbishment or extension work.
In his report to the committee, Cornwall Council’s estate service manager – property, Jonny Alford, said: “The town council has ambitions for the site. Its offices are cramped, poorly specified and spread over different floors.
“The archive area is less than ideal and security and fire precautions are adequate but sub-optimal. To address these problems a comprehensive refurbishment to include additional office space, a secure archive and better public interface is planned, retaining the library service largely unchanged.
“The transaction accords with the localism agenda in that it allows the town council to further develop and improve a dated community asset to provide facilities that will benefit the town council’s constituency.
“Although Cornwall Council will lose income of £10,980pa, this is considered an acceptable loss in view of the wider benefits under the localism agenda.”
The recommendation now has to be ratified by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet, whose next meeting is on January 29. Falmouth Town Council is hoping the matter will be resolved without |opposition.
Town clerk, Mark Williams, has admitted the transfer looks likely to happen earlier than councillors thought.
“This is twelve months earlier than we anticipated, we were looking at April 1 2015, but Cornwall Council wanted to move faster.”