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Vision to 'revitalise' hall nearing 'end of its life'

PUBLISHED: 12:07 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:07 21 January 2020

St Michael's community rooms are in the courtyard of the church in Framlingham Picture: CITIZENSIDE.COM

St Michael's community rooms are in the courtyard of the church in Framlingham Picture: CITIZENSIDE.COM

(c) copyright citizenside.com

Nearly 150 people voiced their thoughts at an exhibition of a planned redevelopment for a public hall which will 'revitalise' part of a Suffolk town.

The public event at St Michael's Rooms in Framlingham, held on Friday evening and Saturday morning, represented the chance for the public to have their say on an upcoming redevelopment of the building.

Representatives from James Gorst Architects were present to showcase their updated plans for the building.

Jeremy Schofield, assistant churchwarden, said the reaction from the public had been mostly positive - although concerns over parking and kitchen facilities were raised.

He said: "We had a good range of people take an interest in the initiative. Framlingham is particularly in need of a modern development.

"We want to make sure the redevelopment meets the best needs for the community at large."

The hall, located in the St Michael's Church grounds, is still in use for public events but is in need of a refurbishment.

Framlingham Town Council chairman Philip Collins had previously described St Michael's Rooms as at the "end of their life".

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In November last year, town councillors unanimously passed two motions supporting redevelopment work at the building - including allocating £700,000 of community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding from East Suffolk Council for the project.

Community leaders also agreed to provide an additional £70,000 of CIL funding to allow the redevelopments to proceed after years of discussions between the Parochial Church Council (PCC), who own the building, and the town council.

The St Michael's Rooms project coincides with a redevelopment of the town's Conservative Club, which is due to reopen later this year as a space of "lasting social value", according to architects Paperhouse.

Mr Schofield said the two initiatives would help "revitalise" Framlingham town centre.

The public exhibition at the weekend provided residents with a first glimpse of the architects' plans for the building, which includes constructing a separate room suitable for smaller meetings.

A questionnaire was also handed out at the event, which found that the reception of the new designs was overwhelmingly positive.

Mr Schofield added: "The general tone of the responses was very complimentary of the architects' designs. The biggest concern was car parking, but we're going to do our best to provide this.

"We hope to be able to submit the planning application in March.

"Thank you to everyone for coming and providing their helpful comments."

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