WITNEY’S Corn Exchange could reopen by the end of the year.

Members of Witney Town Council’s public halls committee were given an update last week on the progress of renovation proposals.

The Grade II-listed building was closed suddenly in November 2011, after a safety inspection uncovered serious problems.

Progress has been delayed for several months after asbestos was found earlier this year.

The committee’s new chairman, Roger Curry, said: “We’re more than aware of how important it is to get it open and we will hopefully see the hall opened by Christmas, fingers crossed.

“We’re more desperate than anyone. It’s not just something we’ve decided to do overnight.

“It has just taken time. We’re getting quotes for contractors and we just have to wait for them to finish, then we will proceed with the actual building works.

“Once people can see something happening, they will get excited about it.”

In a report to the meeting, town clerk Sharon Groth said the reopening of the Corn Exchange depended on getting listed building approval to make alterations, removing the asbestos and approving a contractor to carry out the refurbishment work.

She said there had been a “slight slippage” because of the need to get specialist advice about the asbestos.

The council is working with Ridge property and construction consultants, which last month used a drone to get aerial pictures of the roof to assess its condition.

An application has been made for a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is due to be considered on Friday.

The council agreed earlier this year to sell the Langdale Hall to help pay for the multi-million-pound refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and has appointed agents, but has yet to receive any formal bids.

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