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!
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.htmlunder 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:
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
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
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
To insert a new second floor mezzanine in the first-floor room on the front elevation
To provide new platform lifts at the front and rear of the building, to provide almost universal access throughout
To introduce natural light to the Main Hall via new rooflights
To provide modern fit for purpose sanitary facilities including accessible toilets and an accessible shower
To greatly improve the functionality and size of the existing kitchen
To establish dedicated plant space at the rear of the Main Hall to allow the future installation of efficient energy systems
To restore the Lesser Hall to its former grandeur through careful restoration and redecoration
To improve external accessibility to the building by adjusting external levels and improving surfacing in the pend
To carry out essential and desirable fabric repairs
The Long section drawing shown below gives an idea of some of the above changes.
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.
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.
Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up in response to Coronavirus. It is a partnership with the Scottish Government, Local Councils, and SCVO. It is also supported by a range of other organisations from around Scotland and the UK.
Getting online will help people access the support and services they need. As well as helping them to keep in touch with friends & family. In order to help get people online they are supplying Ipads, Chromebooks and Internet Dongles along with help and support people to develop digital skills. They are mainly targeting those that are:
Digitally excluded – Those that do not have the appropriate device/connectivity at home.
On low incomes – Those that cannot afford to purchase a device and or pay for internet access at home.
At risk of isolation due to coronavirus – Those that are vulnerable (shielding) or higher risk of severe illness.
Forres Online via Moray Council has been allocated a number of devices/connectivity and will be providing ongoing support. If you know of someone who falls into the category above and would benefit from this programme, then please get in touch with Janice Cooper Forres Online Project Coordinator 01309 674388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org