Plymouth council considers buying Devonport Market Hall
Devonport Market Hall could be bought by Plymouth City Council and used as a social enterprise venture.
Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet is being asked to consider buying the empty grade II listed building and surrounding land for £1 and in return, be eligible for £2.57 million funding under the agency’s Dowry programme.
The former Devonport Market Hall Building was designed by James Piers St Aubyn and built in 1852.
Currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, the building is in a poor state of repair.
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There has been a market on the site since 1760, although the Ministry of Defence annexed the building and a substantial track of land around it behind a security wall in the 1960s.
A report going to Cabinet on 12 March recommends that the Council accept the offer to transfer the freehold of the building which it hopes will pave the way for its long-term future use.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Tudor Evans said: “This is an exceptional opportunity to bring back a landmark building to life and under community control.
“Over the last few years there have been dramatic changes to Devonport. New homes are making it a great place to live, the Guildhall is creating a buzz, however there has been no commercial interest in the Market Hall.
“It dominates the neighbourhood and we felt it incredibly important to take this opportunity to ensure that the people of Plymouth can shape its future. It is not without risk, but we believe that by working co-operatively we can find a solution.”
If approved, the Council will look at developing a social enterprise project to breathe new life into the building as well as create jobs in the area.
Under the terms of the deal, there will be no restrictions on how the dowry sum will be used other than for the building.
It is estimated the cost of renovation will be £2.3 million, however the Council does not yet know if the Dowry funding will cover a final cost project and how much will be needed for maintenance before any renovation event starts. The report notes that further funding sources including renovation grants will need to be identified.
The report says: “There is no doubt that the HCA offer is high risk for the Council. However whilst the HCA may have some degree of future obligations in relation to the future of the building there is absolutely no guarantee that the transfer will be offered in the future or, more significantly, that a dowry sum of £2.57 million will exist in 2017 when Redrow vacate the site.”
The Devonport Area Action Plan, which was adopted in 2007 set out a vision for the regeneration of the area and highlighted the need to protect historic environment assets. One of its key aims was to redevelop the former South Yard Enclave site (now known as Devonport Vision) for a major mixed use development and is specifically required that historic buildings are re-used.