Rescue plan is in the wings

A COMMUNITY building that had been under threat of being sold off is set to be handed a reprieve tonight (Wednesday). The St Ives Corn Exchange has needed refurbishment for six years, but the estimated cost had been deemed too high by St Ives Town Council

A COMMUNITY building that had been under threat of being sold off is set to be handed a reprieve tonight (Wednesday).

The St Ives Corn Exchange has needed refurbishment for six years, but the estimated cost had been deemed too high by St Ives Town Council and the building remained derelict.

However, a proposal to bring the building back into use - at a reduced cost - which has been put together by a town businessman is expected to be given the green light at a council meeting tonight.

Mike Purchas, owner of the town's Golden Lion Hotel, has been working on costings for the project and believes the Corn Exchange can be restored for less than £600,000.


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Councillor Doug Dew, who has been in consultation with Mr Purchas, said: "We have money set aside for the project but all previous schemes to restore the building came in over-budget.

"However, Mike believes that he can complete the project for significantly less. He has had a budget to work to and that is what he has done."

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Since closing in 2001, the building, in Market Hill, has stood empty and proposals to refurbish it from the town council and campaign group Action Corn Exchange (ACE) have been regarded as too expensive.

However, a structural survey carried out by a surveyor working for Mr Purchas found that the foundations were in a better state of repair than initially feared.

If the town council, which has money set aside for the building, gives the scheme the green light, additional surveys of the site will need to be conducted before work can begin, Cllr Dew said.

"The last thing we want in two years time is to be asking ourselves why the building has fallen down," he said. "All due diligence will need to be completed."

Nick Dibben, co-chairman of ACE, said: "Wednesday evening could be a very important one in the future of the Corn Exchange.

"It could be the first meeting at which the council has really thrown its weight behind the campaign to keep the Corn Exchange."

Should the scheme be given the go-ahead, it is thought the town council will ask Mr Purchas to act as project manager. "I can't think of anyone more suitable," said Cllr Dew.

INFORMATION: The council meeting gets under way at 7.30pm and will be held in the Free Church, St Ives, to allow for the expected increase in public attendance.

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