Exchange is secure

A PLAN to save a community building from being sold off is expected to be given the green light tonight (Wednesday). Civil engineer Mike Purchas has drawn up a building schedule for restoration of St Ives historic Corn Exchange building. Mr Purchas, who

A PLAN to save a community building from being sold off is expected to be given the green light tonight (Wednesday).

Civil engineer Mike Purchas has drawn up a building schedule for restoration of St Ives' historic Corn Exchange building.

Mr Purchas, who owns the town's Golden Lion pub, stepped in after St Ives Town Council put the building on the market in the summer. He believes that the building can be restored to a usable state for around £850,000 - significantly less than previous schemes.

Councillor Doug Dew, who has been liaising with Mr Purchas while he created his business plan, said: "Mick Purchas has put in a lot of hard work to draw up a plan to save the Corn Exchange and from what I have seen it looks viable."

Mr Purchas has used contacts in the building trade - and the generosity of local businesses - to come up with a cheaper option for the building.

Cllr Dew said that the council would consider taking out a small bank loan to make up any shortfall.

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The council has around £650,000 to spend on the building and expects to make some money from the sale of land at the back of the building.

"What we do not want - and what we have said all along - is to put the council in a situation where it is having to subsidise the building heavily," Cllr Dew said.

"We did not want to have to take out a £1million loan to restore the building but a small loan, if necessary, might well be acceptable."

Cllr Dew also hinted that relations between the town council and lobby group Action Corn Exchange had thawed since Mr Purchas's involvement.

He said: "ACE have handed over a lot of information to the town council in a bid to assist Mr Purchas with his plans."

Should Mr Purchas's rescue package be given approval, councillors must decide how the building will be run once restored.

If councillors decide against giving Mr Purchas the opportunity to renovate the building, a discussion will be held behind closed doors to consider other offers received for it.

The 19th century Corn Exchange is a Grade II-listed building and has stood empty since 2001 when it was declared unsafe.

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