HPBC responds to (some) library questions

A response from HPBC to questions we asked about the listing of Victoria Hall as an Asset Of Community Value reveals that HPBC refused to endorse a press release about Glossop library from Derbyshire County Council.  DCC have yet to comment on the news two weeks ago from local councillors that the library must leave Victoria Hall. We also asked HPBC on 12th October if they were considering selling the Victoria Hall, but have not received a reply yet.



We asked HPBC:
With reference to the Officer recommendation for approval of the Victoria Hall as an "Asset of Community Value"
We would like to know
1. If HPBC was aware that the decision to move Glossop Library from Victoria Hall was imminent or had already been taken when this recommendation was made?

High Peak Borough Council had been informed that the County Council was giving further consideration to its decision to keep the library in the Victoria Hall. Subsequently, late afternoon on the 2nd October the Borough Council received a draft press release from the County Council indicating that a decision would be taken by them to relocate the library from the Victoria Hall and that the alternative options for the library were in the Glossop Adult Education building. High Peak Borough Council would not and will not endorse the draft press release created by DCC.


2. If this decision impacts on item 4 of 7.4 in the recommendation report at http://www.highpeak.gov.uk/sites/default/files/meetings/papers/papers-1347636869/1a%2520Asset%2520Reg%25203%2520Victoria%2520Hall%2520Sept%25202015.pdf ?
"It is realistic to think that the building or land will continue to be used in a way which will further the social well-being and social interests of the community within the next 5 years."

In response to an application by SOUL, Victoria Hall has been registered by High Peak Borough Council as an Asset of Community Value.
The short answer is that, if it had been known at the time that a formal decision to remove the library had been taken, then this would have been a factor in assessing whether the Victoria Hall should be registered as an Asset of Community Value. However, if it was assessed that it is realistic to think that the Victoria Hall could be used for new beneficial purposes, as defined by the Localism Ac 2011, then it would still have been recommended for registration as an Asset of Community Value.

The longer technical answer:
The Localism Act established four criteria to be met for a building to be registered as an Asset of Community Value: (1) that the organisation nominating a building to be registered is eligible; (2) that the building is not exempt from registration; (3) that the building has in the last five years been used to further the social well-being and social interests of the local community (as defined by the Localism Act 2011) and this use is not ancillary; (4) it is realistic to think that the building or land will continue to be used in a way which will further the social well-being and social interests of the community within the next 5 years.
In the last five years the use of the Victoria Hall as a public library and youth club justified the assessment that the building does further the ‘social well-being and social interests’ of the local community.

A judgment about whether it is realistic to think a building will continue to be used in beneficial ways which meet the definition of the Localism Act is based on whether its current use is likely to continue and/or whether other beneficial uses are likely. The past and future beneficial uses do not have to be identical. There is no statutory guidance on what factors should be taken into account in order to reach a judgment that ‘it is realistic to think’ a beneficial use will continue. The factors the Council uses include whether the model of a community or voluntary organisation running the particular type of building has been successful elsewhere, whether there is or are local community or voluntary organisations which are or could become capable of running the building, whether there is a proven continuing public need or demand for use of the building. The fact that the Borough Council is the Trustee of the Victoria Hall and wants to see the building brought back fully into community use would also be a factor in reaching a judgment

It could be argued, therefore, that even without the library continuing in the Victoria Hall there are factors which make it ‘realistic to think the building will continue to be used in a way which will further social well-being and social interest’.

 

3. Has a decision been made about approving the building as an asset of community value, and if not when will the decision be made?

Yes, High Peak Borough Council acted promptly to approve the registration of the Victoria Hall as an Asset of Community Value and the Council is making arrangements to inform the Land Registry, to amend the appropriate records and inform Glossop SOUL as the organisation which nominated the building for registration.

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