Old school to become concert hall again and ‘rejuvenate market town’
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 August 2020
An old school house in Hadleigh is to return to its former glory as a concert hall after permission was granted for it to be used as an entertainment venue.
The Old School in Bridge Street is owned by Ian Grutchfield, director of Stardust Hadleigh, and has been used to stage large events in more recent years.
An application for a change of use was lodged in February and permission was granted on Tuesday, July 21, to change from a dwelling to a leisure venue and concert hall.
The grand property was built during the Victorian era in 1852 and was a school for boys at the time, however it ceased operation in 1968 after operations moved.
No longer a school, the hall was purchased by a conductor and composer who licensed it as a public entertainment venue and ran a concert hall for more than 40 years.
Situated around the corner from High Street, it was refurbished in the late 20th century and boasts ‘superb acoustics, welfare provision for the disabled and compliance with all health and safety requirements’.
Taking to social media to celebrate the news, pictured with a celebratory drink, Mr Grutchfield said: “Bringing back the good times. Champagne tonight.
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“Hadleigh Old School has gained full planning permission as a venue.
“Concerts Ice Skating Dance it is all within our right. Hooray. 2021 here we come.”
In his application, Mr Grutchfield had pointed out that the planned use has been established by legal precedent for several decades and he himself has previously hired the premises for events in the past.
He said the use has potential for ‘significant economic benefit, tourism, employment and overall benefit to the town of Hadleigh’.
In 2018 he ran a jazz concert as part of the All Hadleigh Music Festival and the hall has previously hosted a Summer Festival and the East Anglian International Music Festival.
Mick Fraser, Conservative councillor for Hadleigh, said: “It certainly could be very exciting for the town to have another venue destination, especially if these concerts are held with a reasonable frequency.
“There are some concerns about parking from local residents, but as long as patrons use the designated car parks in Hadleigh there should be no problem.”
The hall is currently closed due to Covid-19, but can stay open between 7am and 11pm on weekdays and 7am until 11.59pm on the weekends and public holidays.
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