Concerns over sale of historic 19th century Old Memorial Hospital in Cirencester
TENANTS of a landmark public building in Cirencester have been told they have three months to move before Cotswold District Council sells the premises.
The 19th century Old Memorial Hospital on Sheep Street, which houses a number of organisations including the including the Living Memory Historical Association (LMHA) and the Cirencester Cyber Café, is to be put up for sale by CDC.
This follows the Council’s decision to put the 18th century Old Prison at Northleach on the open market last year.
Town Cllr Deryck Nash said he was seriously concerned that CDC, which currently has £17m in reserves, was using historic assets to generate revenue with little concern for their historic value.
“Money isn’t the be all and end all of everything,” he said. “It’s a pity that the town’s historic heritage is being sold off by a district council that certainly has no interest in Cirencester itself.
“The Old Memorial Hospital has a great deal of sentimental significance, particularly for many of the older residents of Cirencester.
“It’s a great pity that a building of such significant historical meaning to the town has to be sold but if it is I hope that it will be incorporated into whatever’s built around it.”
Town Cllr Roly Hughes said was concerned about what would happen to the building, which includes a listed staircase, if it was sold to a private buyer.
“I think it’s a building that should be kept as part of the town,” he said. “If they just bulldoze it that’s going to be a great loss to Cirencester – it should be kept for the good of the people in the town.”
LMHA trustee Peter Grace said all of the organisations in the building have been given until January 4 2013 to find new homes.
"The people who make the decisions have no interest in the town," he said.
Although the Cirencester Air Raid shelter, located at the back of the hospital, will not be affected, Peter said that moving to another location would cause serious problems for events such as school visits.
"The only option is to find some storage space but we don’t want everything to be stored away and forgotten," he said.
Kate Ingleby Das, who runs the cyber café, which has been running from the building for the past seven years, said she was not sure what the future of the facility would be.
"We certainly don’t want it to be the end but it's an opportunity to do something fresh," she said.
"The cyber café has done a really good job but the needs of the young people and the needs of the town have changed over the last seven years."
Cllr Barry Dare (Con, Blockley), CDC cabinet member for corporate resources, said the council had made the decision to sell the building in October 2011 as the cost of maintenance work to ensure it complied with health and safety regulations had become unsustainable.
"Following that decision, we have tried to retain the existing tenants as long as practicable, but some urgent works are now required and we can no longer guarantee their safety without committing a significant amount of taxpayers funds," he said.
"We are assisting the existing tenants in their search for suitable alternative accommodation, while looking at the best way to dispose of the property."