Stroud Town Council bought Lansdown Hall a year ago. “Nothing practical was working, we were in debt and the hall was in desperate need of repair,” said Jeremy Collingwood, chairman of the Lansdown Hall charity.
“The town council saw that the building was being run into the ground and it stepped in to help us by purchasing the property. Now with their help and support we are working hard to restore the building and turn it into Stroud’s ‘village hall’.”
The council has so far spent about £14,000 on urgent repairs and surveys on the grade 2 listed building. At one point in January, the electrics were failing, the drains were blocked, the boiler was condemned and the toilets weren’t functioning.
“We went back to basics and looked at what we could offer people who used the hall and gallery and turned the hall into a going concern,” said Jeremy.
Now the hall, formerly known as The Space, is almost fully booked during the day. It is used for live music, art exhibitions, drama, classes, private parties and film screenings.
The next step will be to increase hall rentals in the evening to make it more viable with all the improvements allowing an increase in numbers legally permitted to use the Hall.
The town council has unveiled the next stage of plans for the hall and gallery. It has applied for planning permission to build a new main entrance to the hall to provide access directly from Bank Gardens, and to reopen the original street door into the Gallery from Lansdown. A newly built entrance at the rear of the building will allow the backstage area to be improved and give staff more vital storage space.
Town councillor Steve Hurrell, who heads the Lansdown Hall Working group, said if the plans are approved, the town council will apply for grants for financial support. The town council has set aside £75,000 to complete the initial project.
Other improvements on the cards include refurbished toilets, installation of eco-friendly heat pumps, increased insulation and increased support for the Hall’s floor installation and new floor supports.
“Lansdown Hall is Stroud’s village hall and we wanted to work with the community to create a resource for all,” said Councillor Hurrell. “What Jeremy and his team of volunteers have achieved in a short time has been truly impressive.”
Lansdown Hall is in need of more helpers who can support the volunteer caretaker. To find out more, contact Sue Bearder, the centre manager, on 01453 767576.