Date set to consider plans of community hub at Bourne Corn Exchange

PLANS to create a one-stop-shop for community services are nearing the final hurdle.

South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee will consider an application to turn Bourne Corn Exchange into a community access point at a meeting on January 10.

The new centre would bring a range of services under one roof, including the library, the county, district and town council offices, Citizens Advice Bureau and function rooms.

The district council has applied to extend the ground floor to the east, add new windows and doors and install a ramp as part of the conversion.

District council leader Linda Neal (Con), who represents the Bourne West ward, is optimistic about the project.

She said: “A lot of hard work has gone into it so far so hopefully it will be approved and then the project can move forward.

“The end goal is the community hub which will be a focus for services locally. We are still working with one or two possibilities.

“If it all pulls together as we hope it will, it should be a service delivery centre for the people of Bourne and the surrounding areas.”

If the plans are approved, the Corn Exchange would be transformed. The ground floor would house a new customer service facility, the library and interview rooms along with a hall, kitchen and changing rooms.

The main function room on the ground floor would be retained for hiring and town council meetings would be held in the building. There would also be offices on the first floor for staff and the living accommodation would be converted for offices and storage.

Council officers have recommended the plans for approval as the proposed changes would not spoil the appearance of the building and would not detract from the surrounding area.

If approved, consultation will begin with a view to starting design work next year and finishing the project in March 2013.

Bourne mayor Coun Brenda Johnson said the new centre was a good idea, but warned that buildings such as the current library in South Street and town hall should not be forgotten.

She hopes an ambulance station could be created at the library site which is next to the fire station,

Coun Johnson said: “We could have the fire and ambulance services together with some traffic lights outside.

“I don’t think everyone is happy with the library moving but the town centre is a better location.

“The fact that the town council is moving in there is a fantastic thing as everyone can access all meetings. I would like to see it work but I don’t want to see the town hall go to rack and ruin. To leave it empty seems criminal.”

Coun Johnson intends to raise the idea with the town council once the plans for the Corn Exchange have gone through.