Innovative plans for local town halls

Investment is being considered for Stonehaven town hall. Pic: Nicholas Mutton (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence).
Investment is being considered for Stonehaven town hall. Pic: Nicholas Mutton (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence).

Communities are being encouraged to come forward with innovative plans for their local town halls, after councillors agreed to a strategy for a number of premises across Aberdeenshire.

Members of the Business Services Committee met to discuss the Town and Public Hall Strategy, designed to ensure that public halls support local needs and help with the delivery of council services.

The report being considered made clear it was important to have a strategy which would ensure facilities were fit for purpose, sustainable and managed appropriately. The report acknowledged the linkages to other available facilities across Aberdeenshire.

As a result, it was agreed a number of premises are to be considered for refurbishment, that the overall number of halls be reduced, and that some which are already non-operational be disposed of. The report will result in: Investment being considered for halls in Banchory, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Macduff and Stonehaven; plans being drawn up to explore how better use can be made of halls in Portsoy, Rosehearty, Lumphanan and Torphins, to increase footfall and community involvement.

Halls be declared “surplus to requirements” in Banff, Laurencekirk, and the Beach Pavilion, Stonehaven.

Formal closure of halls at Corse Huntly and Kinnoir Huntly. The above will result in town halls owned and managed direct by Aberdeenshire Council reduced to 13 (down from a current 18). Continue to support arrangements for the community management of halls.

The paper outlines the use of facilities in each location and proposed alternative options. For example, low levels of use at the facility in Laurencekirk were noted with alternative options in nearby modern Mearns Community Campus. It also noted the storm damage sustained to the Beach Pavilion in Stonehaven, the alterative facilities nearby and the investment required to bring it back up to standard.

Ritchie Johnston, director of Business Services, said: “It is important that we have a strategy based on what is sustainable, affordable and of best value to the communities. As a result it makes sense to close facilities which are not being used and help the small user groups identify more fit-for-purpose opportunities.

“Now is the time for communities to get involved. Those with innovative and workable ideas for how they can maximise the use of their local facilities are being encouraged to develop their plans and come to speak to us. We will work with all parties in an attempt to streamline our estate, a process which is in everyone’s best interests.”