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Former Bromsgrove Museum building could be put up for sale
10:10am Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in Local
SENIOR councillors are to consider whether to put the former Bromsgrove Museum building up for sale this evening, (April 2).
Selling the Birmingham Road building, which was home to the museum until its closure by the authority in 2008, is one of four options being put to Bromsgrove District Council's cabinet.
The museum was closed by the council because of spiralling running costs and a drop in visitor numbers.
Campaigners, led by the Norton Collection Charitable Trust, attempted to take over the running of the museum and reopen it to the public.
Last July there appeared to be a breakthrough as an offer of £200,000 from the trust was accepted by the council to buy the building.
It was given six months to raise the money, but during this period the trust considered alternate locations.
The officer's report to cabinet members comments that the matter had now come full circle after the trust was unsuccessful in negotiations for the United Reform Church, and failed to raise sufficient funds to secure the Steps House building for £250,000 last month.
Negotiations over the museum reopened between the trust and the authority, with the trust making two proposals.These are to be considered tonight, along with a further two.
The four options are:
• Granting a long lease, for at least 25 years, to the trust for the museum building on a peppercorn, substantially discounted rent. Under this option the trust would be responsible for the upkeep of the building.
• The trust be permitted to purchase the building for £150,000. Half of this being paid "on completion" while the other half would be paid over a 25 year period from anticipated income and donations.
• Exploring the option of letting out the building on a commercial basis.
• Looking to dispose of the building to generate the best return for the council.
However, in a blow to campaigners, officers in a meeting of the asset management group assessed the trust's proposals would not provide value for money.
The report said a sale at below value would be unacceptable as there is "limited evidence of wider community benefit arising from the presence of a museum in Bromsgrove".
The officers group has recommended the building be sold on the open market.
Another option, letting out the building, is looked on favourably by officers as it could bring in revenue, while retaining an asset that could later increase in value.
"There has been some interest shown in recent weeks by commercial organisations seeking a building to use for a restaurant," the report states.
Councillor Michael Webb, portfolio holder for finance, customer services and economic development, said: "We will be looking at, and discussing, many options for the future of the museum building as outlined in the report."
The Norton Collection Trust's chairman could not be contacted before the Advertiser went to press.
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