Otley Civic Centre revamp ideas ‘dismay’

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New ideas for Otley Civic Centre have been met with dismay by campaigners who want the space to be revived as a town hall and theatre space.

Give Otley Its Town Hall wants the council to spend £1.5m to refurbish the Grade II-listed building so it can be brought back into use.

But a letter to Otley Town Council from Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, reveals he is in talks with three potential developers.

One is for a residential development to be created by a company whose portfolio involves transforming listed buildings.

Tom Featherstone, chairman of Give Otley its Town Hall, said: “Leeds City Council have clearly committed previously that Otley Civic Centre must continue to be a venue for the community and this flies in the face of that.”

But Coun Lewis said the campaigners had made no formal declaration of interest with the council’s surveyor when the availability of the building was first advertised.

He added: “This would have been the time to engage with the process.

“Numerous other parties did register their interest, and a number of them maintained and developed their interest further when formal proposals for the building were invited earlier this year.

“I have been very clear that I want to see a use that gives the building a long-term sustainable future and brings real benefits to the local community.

“Very careful consideration will be given to the submissions as we want to be assured whoever takes the listed building on has the ability, track record, resources and properly estimated costs to ensure an appropriate refurbishment can be completed.”

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