Council will apply to register town building as community asset
PUBLISHED: 08:12 15 July 2019
Saffron Walden Town Council has recommended that a building owned by Essex County Council be listed as an asset of community value, to protect it from being sold.
Although the county council has not expressed a desire to sell the building, located adjacent to Fairycroft House, in Fairycroft Road, Saffron Walden, councillors were told that the building is under-utilised and could be used as additional arts space.
Part of the building is currently home to Adult Community Learning Essex (ACL), which offers education courses. Youth groups also operate from the building, which is owned by Essex County Council and was built on the former gardens of the adjacent Fairycroft House.
Tim Atkinson, who runs Fairycroft House, told the town council, at a meeting of the assets and services committee on June 24, he wanted to see the building put to greater use and said he had contacted the county council about taking out a lease.
He said it would be "a disaster" if the building was sold off for housing and said registering it as an asset of community value would make a statement to the county council that people in the town didn't want to lose it.
He said: "From the point of view of our company, we would love to reunite the whole site, because obviously [the building] did belong to Fairycroft House many moons ago and could have all sorts of things running there because we're finding, although we've been successful, everyone wants 5-8pm on a weeknight, or a Saturday, and there is only so many things [that can be accommodated].
"In this other building, there are dedicated teaching rooms, there are numerous conference rooms, there are a lot of rooms about this size with long desks and tables and stuff which are not used."
Mr Atkinson said he had a number of people on a waiting list, asking for space that he had been unable to easily accommodate at Fairycroft House, which itself was registered as an asset of community value before the money was raised to buy it from the county council.
"There is a great need in Saffron Walden and the local areas for more dedicated spaces," added Mr Atkinson.
A motion to recommend the property be listed as an asset of community value passed unanimously.
A spokesman for Essex County Council said: "I can confirm that ACL will be moving from the current site in Fairycroft Road, but the service will continue to offer courses in the Saffron Walden area."
The spokesman said the courses will be located in "other buildings in the community".
"This doesn't mean that the county council would immediately close the building as ACL is one of several users within that building," the spokesman continued. "We keep the utilisation of all our buildings reviewed regularly and any surplus space at the Fairycroft Road site will be considered for any other county council requirements."