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Public to decide on hall designer
Witney residents will get a chance to meet and grill prospective designers before voting on the future look of the Corn Exchange.
Witney Town Council will hold seven public meetings during June and July to decide on the design and designer of the Market Square hall.
The building was closed by the council in November after a report showed it had major problems with its fire escapes, stonework and heating and electrical systems.
But since then the council has created a public halls committee – tasked with reopening the hall – and held a public workshop to draw up design briefs.
Public halls committee chairman Toby Morris said: “We wanted the public’s involvement and comments throughout the process, and for me that is very important.
“This phase of the project is all about looking closely at the designers and weighing up what ideas and innovation they can bring to the table.
“People are not being asked to select a final design but to vote for the designer they feel can deliver an exciting and inclusive vision of the Corn Exchange.
“We are looking for cost-effective, but inventive ideas, alternative ways of doing things and in particular those who have factored in long-term considerations, such as future maintenance implications and value for money.”
In April, the council held a workshop with 40 residents to draw up three design briefs – a refurbishment, remodelling of the inside and demolition and rebuild.
Since then the council has received 85 requests for information about the project, with 19 firms coming forward, and these have been whittled down to a shortlist of six to tender the three designs.
Councillors will make a decision on which is the strongest design for each brief and residents will be able to choose a designer from these three options.
Members of the public and hall users will be able to meet the designers and vote on their preferred firm during the drop-in workshops.
A decision on the designer and design, based on the public’s comments and voting, will be released on August 8.
Deputy town clerk Claire Swan said: “We have reached a new and really exciting stage and I would encourage as many people as possible to take part constructively in this process.
“In particular, we would like to hear from those who feel the building could offer new facilities, perhaps something different; anyone with ideas for innovative, creative or unus-ual uses; and people who have not used the Corn Exchange before but would perhaps if there was something special there to attract them.”
The workshops, at Langdale Hall, will take place on June 25 from 6.30pm to 10pm, June 28 from 1.30pm to 5.30pm, June 30 from 9.30am to 1.30pm, July 2 from 6.30pm to 10pm, July 5 from 1.30pm to 5.30pm, July 9 from 6.30pm to 10pm and July 12 from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
Members of the public can also comment online at witney-tc.gov.uk/ publichalls. html or monitor progress via the Corn Exchange’s Facebook (tinyurl.com/cqnrmrd) and Twitter (@CornExchangeWit) accounts.