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Knocking down former council headquarters in Gainsborough will save £60k a year

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: October 15, 2012

Gainsborough's Guildhall is set to be demolished

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A council headquarters which has been empty for five years is set to be demolished – saving taxpayers £60,000 a year in maintenance costs.

The old Guildhall in Caskgate Street in Gainsborough closed in 2007 when the authority moved to purpose-built new "green" offices in the Marshall's Yard retail park.

And since then it has cost local residents close on £300,000 – because of both basic maintenance charges and the fact that it was still registered for business use and liable for the council's own rate collections.

No date has been fixed for the removal of the iconic 1970s facade because the demolition will eventually form part of the ambitious Elswitha Quarter redevelopment.

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Phase one of the scheme – still to go before planners – envisages a new hotel and restaurant on the old Guildhall site acting as a catalyst for development of part of the Whitton's Gardens area of the Trent riverside as a seven-screen cinema.

Eric Pickles. the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, gave the go-ahead this week for the old Guildhall demolition.

In 2009, when a scheme to regenerate the area failed to take off, English Heritage carried out a survey on the four-decades old property to decide if it merited listed status.

But it decided that the landmark had no special architectural value.

Council leader Burt Keimach said: "Following negotiations with both the Government and English Heritage, consent has now been granted for West Lindsey District Council to demolish the former Guildhall in Gainsborough.

"This will pave the way for the development of the area for leisure uses in line with the council's plans for the area and save between £50,000 and £60,000 in business rates.

"The council has already agreed in principle to a mixed-use regeneration package in the town, which could see a hotel, cinema, restaurant and shops built near the riverside."

Mr Keimach pledged that the authority would also launch a consultation exercise to ask local people what they wanted to see in the area.

But Gainsborough south west ward member Judy Rainsforth, the only councillor to vote against demolition plans three years ago, revealed that she had no choice this time around.

"I did speak against the demolition of the Old Guildhall in 2009," she said.

"It was because I really thought a developer would come forward, see the potential in the building and want to do something with it.

"Unfortunately that didn't happen and it continued to cost us an arm and a leg just to keep it standing there.

"So, although it saddened me to do so, I voted for demolition.

"I still feel sad about it, I think the building has character, it's one of a kind – there's nothing else like it in Gainsborough. But I was a lone voice."

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