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New look for Buckfastleigh?

Bonn Square, Oxford. Could Buckfastleigh look like this?

It could get a new "square"

A recent Green Infrastructure Survey looked at ways the overall environment of the town could be enhanced, with a new town square a high priority.

The new town square would be located where there is already high pedestrian footfall and visibility to host outdoor community activities, such as a larger weekly farmers market, and provide a valuable community asset that attracts people to the area, and a meeting space for the community, supports business and economic uplift.

The strategy says the new market square would attract visitors and local visitors to the area. Planting on key ‘gateway’ entrances to the town would also take place, as would improvements to pedestrian and cycle linkages between Buckfastleigh and Buckfast.

Further public consultation on which ideas to develop further, leading to feasibility studies for key projects, for example the new town square, will now take place, as will exploring funding opportunities.

It comes as a new board of trustees to revitalise, refurbish and re-imagine Bucklastleigh town hall will be set up.

Buckfastleigh town council last week voted to separate the town hall from the town council, and to create an independent board of trustees to manage the charity, who have the skills and energy to take it forward.

The town council is the trustee of the town hall charity and has done lots of work over the last three years to improve building safety, fixing damage and sorting out many of the financial, legal and management issues, but is struggling to run the council as well as manage the town hall (and institute) charity effectively.

Cllr Andy Stokes, chairman of Buckfastleigh Town Council, said: “Buckfastleigh Town Hall is a great resource for the town. It has provided space for learning, exercise, entertainment and performance, as well as offices for the town council and our public library for over 100 years and we want to make sure it can carry on meeting the needs of the community for many, many years to come.

“Over the last three years, the town council has been upgrading equipment and working practices to make sure that the building is safe and secure and meets modern legislation.

Now we need to work out how to get the town hall in to shape for the next 100 years as to continue into the future, the town hall needs further significant investment and improvement.

“We also need to make sure that it is properly managed and is meeting the current needs of the community. We think that the town councillors are not best placed to manage the day-to-day business of the town hall or lead the project to secure its future.

“We have considered options to create a new board of trustees, independent from the town council, to develop an approach to revitalise, refurbish and re-imagine the town hall.

“The aim would be to put in a proper management plan, addressing the immediate needs for safety, access, hiring conditions and to develop plans for generating additional users and income, find grant income to carry out urgent repairs and development and looking further ahead to longer term community needs and sustainability.

Buckfastleigh town council agreed to set up a new charitable company as trustee for the ‘Town Hall & Institute’, transfer the ownership of the building to the ‘Official Custodian for Charities’, advertise and appoint five or six directors for the new charitable company and to provide financial support to the town hall (as well as management & administrative support while the transfer is underway).

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