THE FUTURE of the Whitchurch Civic Centre hangs in the balance after a structural survey found that the RAAC issues  have been assessed as "critical".

Most of the Civic Centre has been closed to the public since September, following an initial assessment which identified RAAC roof beams in parts of the building.

A detailed structural survey undertaken by specialist RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) engineers has concluded that the material is present across the majority of the Whitchurch Civic Centre complex, and that it has major structural issues which "have been assessed as critical".


They recommended that it is not safe to reopen the building.

Now options for the site will be drawn up ahead of a final decision by Shropshire Council’s cabinet in January.

In a statement on behalf of Whitchurch Town Council, Mayor Andy Hall and proper officer Mike McDonald, said: “This is, of course, a disappointing development following the discovery of RAAC beams within the Civic Centre’s infrastructure several weeks ago, further compounded by the situation with historic asbestos within the building.

“In the meantime, we will work with our Shropshire Council colleagues to identify and assess the best solutions going forward.

“We remain confident that prohibiting access to the building at this time is of primary importance for the health and safety of the public and also our staff and councillors, taking into consideration the best advice of specialist engineers.”

The building's problems are complicated by the presence of asbestos which would be disturbed by any works.

Shropshire Council says it will retaining the library and registrar’s office in Whitchurch and is now looking to urgently relocate these services to a new location in the town centre.

It’s hoped that a temporary home will be found shortly while a long-term location is identified.

Whitchurch Town Council will be undertaking a review to consider its own options.

It also means the Town Council’s plans for the centre to accommodate a driving test centre have also been placed on hold.

Mr Hall and Mr McDonald added: “However, we also recognise that the Civic Centre sits at the heart of our High Street and is a valued Community Asset, both culturally and economically – this will be at the forefront of our minds as we discuss the next steps in the formulation of proposals to Shropshire Council, our corporate landlord, for consideration early in the New Year.

“In the meantime, a temporary base for our reception and administrative teams is in the process of being arranged to maintain contact with the general public – by telephone and email in the first instance – and activity continues unaffected in the Sports/Market Hall.

“We look forward to further discussions to bring this uncertainty to a speedy resolution and thank everyone for their ongoing support.”

Shropshire Council confirmed it will work with Whitchurch Town Council and the town’s councillors on the process.

Peggy Mullock, Tom Biggins, and Gerald Dakin, Shropshire councillors for the Whitchurch area, said: “We are deeply saddened by this news, but we welcome the council’s commitment to ensure that library and registrar services are maintained within the town.

“We also welcome the commitment made by the council to respond to the situation in a timely manner with recommendations coming forward early in the new year.”

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, added that this is “disappointing, but not entirely unexpected news”.

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She added: “We knew that there were RAAC issues in the Civic Centre and the inspectors’ findings have confirmed our worst fears.

“We’ll now consider the best options for the building, with recommendations coming forward very early in the new year.

“I can give local people my reassurance that we will continue to provide library and registry services in the town.”