PROGRESS is finally set to be made on Whitchurch’s Centre North East (CNE), with the town’s youth being the main beneficiary.

The centre was closed in 2019 as the building had begun to fall into a state of disrepair.

This closure forced out the occupying groups, including the youth group and Men in Sheds, but the moves have been put in motion to allow the youth to return.

The main stumbling blocks for Whitchurch Town Council have been Shropshire Council’s ownership of the building, with agreements in place to take ownership from Shropshire Council, but nothing put in place as of yet.

At the town council’s September full council meeting, held virtually on Thursday, September 17, councillors discussed on how best to proceed.

Councillor Harvey Vasey put forward his proposal, with the thorny issue of who would repair the roof discussed.

“I was asked to lead a working group in to the feasibility in taking over CNE,” said cllr Vasey. “We met a diverse range of locals and stakeholders.

“Building surveyors revealed the building is structurally sound, but the roof needs some repair.

“Work could be carried out for a third of Shropshire Council’s price, making use of a volunteer force.

“In the total we looked at the single biggest element which is the roof. During the consultation a local roofer came forward and offered to repair the roof for the cost of materials only.

“The working group noted this project could benefit from CIL.”

Cllr Vasey suggested the building could be turned into a new youth hub, run by an independent organisation but overseen by the town council.

“There was a load of input of the public who were interested in more youth projects in the town,” added cllr Vasey. “We met with representatives from Sir John Talbot’s (SJT) who suggested town should create a creative hub.

Cllr John Sinnott raised a number of concerns, questioning their overall objectives and lack of a business plan.

He said: “I understand the facilities that cllr Vasey is talking about but the youth you want to get off the street are not interested in making crafts. They are not the group you are going to get into that youth club.”

Whitchurch mayor, Bev Duffy was one of those who supported the project, describing it as ‘wonderful opportunity’.

Councillors agreed to a number of recommendations to get the plans underway, specifically; taking on CNE, facilitating an agreement to have the roof fixed, bidding for CIL money, sub-letting the building to a charitable hub organisation within one year and forming a small working group to assist the new organisation.