PLANS to get Centre North East back into use have taken another step forward following an agreement to lease the building from Shropshire Council.

At Whitchurch Town Council’s full council meeting, held virtually on Thursday, November 19, plans for CNE continued on, with the building’s lease up for discussion.

A 30-year lease on the building has been put forward has a proposal but work cannot get underway until this lease was agreed.

However, some councillors have aised concern that the building could prove a “bottomless pit” for council cash.

The CNE project has been lead by Councillor Harvey Vasey, who says the building is in a better state than expected and with the help of the community, can be brought up to scratch for cheaper than stated by Shropshire Council.

“I think we’ve been clear all the way through that essentially this is a community asset,” said Cllr Vasey.

“This is a building that requires work to get it up and running.

“All members of the council said that the original costs that were proposed were outlandish and with professional community help we could do this for much less.

“Everyone who has been in the building lately has been amazed and the good state.”

“I think it’s absolutely right that as a council we should look at these things.

“But as we move closer to the project I’d just like to commend these heads of terms and for us to take it forward.

Cllr Christian Gregory-Peake agreed with Cllr Vasey and suggested it would not require much work to get the building up to scratch.

“I went round the building a few days ago and water damage always looks worse than it is,” said Cllr Gregory-Peake. “When you look carefully tiles have dislodged but the actual state of the roof is in a good state.

“It’s not a particularly labour-intensive job.

“I don’t really know what the deal is with Shropshire Council is but if a professional roofer is prepared to do it I don’t see the problem with it.”

However, others including Councillors Alan Chesters, John Sinnott and Andy Hall all had reservations over the plans – and the money involved

Cllr Chesters said while he supported the project as a whole, he could not agree to a lease before costs had been approved.

“While initially I support this project, what I can’t see anywhere is any money,” said Cllr Chesters.

“All that’s been written down is going to cost an extortionate amount of money,” said Cllr Chesters.

“Shropshire Council do not allow non-qualified labour to work on their buildings.

“While the work and everything has been done, I can’t see the costs of the work that will be done.

“I support the objective; what I can’t support is agreeing leases with no costs factored.”

Cllr Sinnott agreed with Cllr Chesters, suggesting the council was going in blind by leasing the building before it was repaired.

“I would echo what Cllr Chesters has said,” said Cllr Sinnott.

“It doesn’t matter what we do to the building, all were doing in the period of 30 years is pouring money into a building we don’t even own.

Cllr Sinnott added: “When I suggested taking this on it was March 2018. We’ve had two-and-a-half years of dereliction, the inside is not in very good condition. I have not seen any business case, no plan or costings.”

“The idea that someone can repair that roof for 10k is absolute nonsense. As Cllr Chesters said previously, we haven’t seen any money.

“We’re taking a building on in the hope we can get money, in the hope we can repair it.”

Cllr Hall warned that CNE could turn into a ‘bottomless pit’ of money.

“I’ve got to say, you’ll find no one keener to get this building up and running than me,” said Cllr Hall.

“My youth worker head tells me get this up and running but the business head on me echoes what councillors have said earlier.

“This is a bottomless pit that could bankrupt this council.”

Following this councillors voted on the proposals, agreeing to lease the building from Shropshire Council.