A DIRECTOR said ‘sorry’ after the council raised hopes a landmark building would be saved two months before drawing up demolition plans.
Rotherham Borough Council had four submissions after inviting expressions of interest for Greasbrough Public Hall last October.
But by Christmas the interested organisations had been told the 1925 building would actually be knocked down for a £1 million traffic scheme.
Council regeneration director Damien Wilson said: “It’s regrettable and I apologise that the process itself didn’t work. It’s a very unfortunate circumstance.
“When we originally invited expressions of interest, we weren’t aware that the transport team were heavily involved in looking at the Bassingthorpe Farm development and potential solutions for transport requirements needed to alleviate congestion.
“All council services should have been spoken to, not necessarily to see if they could use the building itself, which is the way it has been done, but to see if there were any other associated uses for the land. That’s the bit of the policy that was missing.”
At Monday’s Cabinet meeting, Wingfield ward member Cllr Robert Elliott made a last-minute plea for the demolition to be withdrawn and the hall saved.
He said it was RMBC’s increase in hire charges that had led to the hall closing in 2014 \_ a result which cynics could say was the council’s preferred outcome.
Cllr Elliott added: “I share the frustration and anger of my fellow villagers that again, as with Bassingthorpe, no-one in authority seems to listen.
“No matter how many consultations or signatures on petitions, public opinion counts for nothing. The end result is, no matter what, RMBC will prevail.”
Fellow ward member Cllr John Williams said one of his earliest memories was having a birthday party at the hall when he was a child.
He said other traffic pinch points, including at Church Street and The Whins, were in need of action before the planned changes at the hall site.
Greasbrough Public Hall Community Trust, which had put forward one of the expressions of interest, attended Monday’s Cabinet meeting as the demolition option was formally approved.
Trust member Tom Cassell called for a replacement hall to be built in the village, paid for by developers of the 2,400-property Bassingthorpe Farm development.
Mr Wilson said there was potential in the idea, but it was more likely to see changes in running other community buildings like the nearby library.
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