Forres Town Hall, High Street, Forres, Moray, IV36 1PB info@forresarea.org 01309 674 388

High Street Heroes Awards: Results Announced

Forres Area Community Trust have been awarded a Highly Commended High Street Heroes award in an initiative which recognises the people, businesses and local organisations who have gone above and beyond to support their communities during the coronavirus lockdown and re-opening. This initiative is run by the Scotland Loves Local Campaign, which is managed by Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

In each local authority area of Scotland one Regional Champion and a few select Highly Commended titles have been awarded. These entries have received prior notification and will receive a certificate of recognition. Meanwhile all eligible entries are being celebrated and thanked with the title of High Street Hero in the Scotland’s Towns Partnership Roll of Honour. 

FACT are thrilled to be recognised and highly commended for their work in responding to the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. Volunteers and staff stepped up to help those who needed support at this time and worked with a range of local businesses and organisations to meet the needs of our community.

FACT was also pleased to see that other organisations and individuals were recognised for their efforts during this time and beyond. Well done everyone.

Joanna Taylor who is a director of FACT said:

“This is a well-deserved recognition for the work that was done, and is being done, in difficult circumstances.”

With congratulations to the other award winners in Moray who are as follows:

Moray Regional Champion

Ian and Rena Watson, of Cullen Bay Hotel, Cullen

Highly Commended

Forres Area Community Trust (FACT)

Vince Lyon & Bert Logie, Forres in Bloom

Juliette Buchan, Moray Shop Local

High Street Heroes

Findhorn Bay Arts, Forres

Gordon Brailsford & Colleagues, Mosset Tavern, Forres

Medine Duff, Café Medina Pop-Up Café, Forres

Sarah Holmes, Pencil Me In, Elgin

All nominees have received the heartfelt thanks of both Scotland’s Towns Partnership and the Scottish Government’s Communities Secretary. 

Scotland’s Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell praised each and every award nominee for their efforts, saying: “I would like to thank these High Street Heroes for going the extra mile to help their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am pleased the Scottish Government has been able to support these awards through our funding for Scotland’s Towns Partnership. They typify the kind of community spirit that has supported people and improved lives.

“This has been a difficult year for all of us, and the only way we will get through is by sticking together, being kind, and offering help where it is needed. The fact that these awards received more than 1,200 nominations just shows how much people have appreciated those who have pulled together to help one another.”

STP’s Chief Officer, Phil Prentice, said: “The dedication with which people across Scotland have supported those around them during the pandemic has been remarkable. We’re delighted to shine a spotlight on the amazing difference that our High Street Heroes have made and thank them for all they have done.’’

“They are an inspiration – local people helping their communities and customers like never before. They highlight the vital part that high street businesses play in our lives and why we must support them to ensure they continue to be there for us.”

Letter of Commendation

Here at Forres Area Community Trust we are delighted today to receive this letter of Commendation for our efforts in assisting the community over the past months! A big thank must go to all staff, Board Members, Volunteers and members of the public for their contribution!

Exciting next steps for Forres Town Hall

Forres Town Hall - Clockstudio

As FACT conclude the final stages of a Community Asset Transfer for Forres Town Hall, with support from the Scottish Land Fund, steps are now underway for a major Refurbishment Project for the Town Hall.

This project aims to bring the building up to current standards in terms of accessibility, building services and fabric insulation, and to repair and refurbish the building in order that the nearly 200 year old Forres Town Hall can continue to thrive in the 21st century.

Since 2017, following extensive community consultation, FACT has been able to develop a clear vision for Forres Town Hall, which will see its functionality transformed. The stated aims of that vision are: 

  • The wish to transform the Main Hall into a modern multi-purpose accessible performance space      
  • A need to ensure universal accessibility to upper floor accommodation at both the front and the rear of the building 
  • A need to maximise opportunities to create additional flexible floor space for use by the community and social enterprises 
  • The wish to restore the Lesser Hall to become a beautiful event space once more that celebrates the heritage of the building 
  • The wish to make the entrance foyer more welcoming and practical 

To achieve the above future vision for Forres Town Hall, funding from the Scottish Land Fund, which also supported the Community Asset Transfer, has enabled applications for planning permission and listed building consent to be submitted to Moray Council’s Planning Department for a transformative project to refurbish, insulate and improve the building.

Links to the planning application and listed building consent applications can be found on Moray Council’s Planning Online portal  http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_41669.html  under Ref.No. 20/00888/APP and  Ref. No. 20/00889/LBC.  The Design and Heritage Statement, one of the supporting documents submitted as part of the planning and listed building consent applications, provides a full summary of the design proposals. 

The design proposals submitted for planning permission and listed building consent, sub-divides the Town Hall into three parts – a front section with foyer, toilets and a restored Lesser Town Hall, a central section with a large multi-purpose performance space and a rear section with three levels of flexible workspace, and meeting rooms. It does this by proposing: 

  1. To remove the art deco alterations from the Main Hall – revealing the original roof structure – and to install retractable seating in its place, to allow the Hall to be used for more flexible uses 
    1. Through removing the gallery in the Main Hall, to re-purpose the first-floor corridors (and the stairs that lead to them) that service the gallery as flexible work/ meeting space and storage 
    1. To create new multi-purpose rooms and support space over three floors in the place of the current stage, including a new room below the roof structure overlooking the Main Hall 
    1. To insert a new second floor mezzanine in the first-floor room on the front elevation
    1. To provide new platform lifts at the front and rear of the building, to provide almost universal access throughout  
    1. To introduce natural light to the Main Hall via new rooflights 
    1. To provide modern fit for purpose sanitary facilities including accessible toilets and an accessible shower 
    1. To greatly improve the functionality and size of the existing kitchen 
    1. To establish dedicated plant space at the rear of the Main Hall to allow the future installation of efficient energy systems 
    1. To restore the Lesser Hall to its former grandeur through careful restoration and redecoration 
    1. To improve external accessibility to the building by adjusting external levels and improving surfacing in the pend 
    1. To carry out essential and desirable fabric repairs 

The Long section drawing shown below gives an idea of some of the above changes.

Background to Community Asset Transfer and lockdown

Forres Town Hall - Clockstudio

When Moray Council took the decision to close Forres Town Hall completely in 2017, Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) stepped in to lease and manage the building on behalf of the community. This has been very successful as FACT have worked with user groups to increase occupancy and use of the building which doubled in the first 12 months of taking on the building. 

Until lockdown earlier this year a wide range of user groups including Forres & District Pipe Band, the Varis Players, Film Forres and the Forres branch of the Royal Scottish County Dance Society have been able to continue using this space. 

FACT has also been able to offer various activities in the Town Hall such as the popular Forres Online drop in sessions, and Older Persons Project activities such as gentle seated exercise and welcomed new groups to use the building including Turning Point Church, Zumba and Pound exercise classes, Guide Dog Training and community meals with Moray Food Plus. 

During lockdown it has been possible for Forres Town Hall to serve as a hub for the Forres & Kinloss community food project which has allocated over 1,000 meals since May of this year. It has also been open at limited times for donations to be made to the Scrubs project, food donations, masks, and blankets for the Cameron Project in a Covid-safe way. It has even been possible during lockdown to have the help of volunteers to refresh some of the current décor in the North Room on a socially distanced basis. 

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Following the successful lease period, FACT is now in the final stages of concluding a Community Asset Transfer for Forres Town Hall, with support from the Scottish Land Fund. The final sale has not yet gone through as it has been delayed by the pandemic, however this is expected to complete before the end of the year. The building will then be owned by the Forres Area Community Trust on behalf of the community.

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