Forres Town Hall Regeneration Project: an enterprising community venue for all
Why is Forres Town Hall important to our community?
Forres Town Hall is an iconic building on the High Street within the historic burgh of Forres and the Forres Conservation Area. It has played a significant role in the local community for nearly two centuries since it was built to a design by the eminent Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson, and has been put to a variety of uses over the years, including becoming the Mechanics’ Institute in 1845 which established a library for the working class and as a hospital during WW1.
Since 2018, when FACT ( Forres Area Community Trust) stepped in to manage the building on behalf of the community a wide range of user groups including Forres & District Pipe Band, the Varis Players, Film Forres and the Forres Royal Scottish Country Dance Society have been able to continue using this space, and FACT have been able to more than double occupancy of the building with new groups such as Moray Food Plus and Guide Dog training.
FACT also offers activities within the Town Hall such as the Forres Online drop in sessions and the Cameron Project to reduce social isolation. The Town Hall provides a valuable community hub for FACT as the local community anchor organisation providing consultancy, coworking space and community development opportunities.
Why is there a need for Forres Town Hall Regeneration Project?
The accommodation in Forres Town Hall falls well short of current standards in terms of accessibility, building services and fabric insulation. If not addressed the building will deteriorate and its future sustainability compromised in terms of availability, running costs and accessibility. It will exclude people from accessing the building, thereby limiting the benefits that the facilities and activities bring to the community.
As well as preserving the heritage value of the Town Hall, following extensive community consultation, the Regeneration Project will address the above issues by optimising the use and flexibility of the available space within the building, increasing accessibility, reducing the carbon footprint and making the building fit for the 21st century.
What does the Forres Town Hall Regeneration Project involve?
The proposed regeneration project is a potent combination of architectural importance, cultural significance and community benefit. The work on Forres Town Hall will reduce the carbon footprint of a heritage building. It will be transformational for the community by providing modern facilities and a fantastic venue, affordable and flexible space for local community groups and social enterprises. It will act as a catalyst for groups, organisations and businesses to benefit from increased footfall in the town as well as having the potential to be an exemplar project in terms of the physical regeneration of Forres as part of the Town Centre.
The easiest way to describe the planned works for Forres Town Hall is to consider the building in three parts going from the front façade on Forres High Street to the area currently behind the stage off the Main Hall at the back of the building.
These plans will provide:
- a front section with foyer with direct access to an enlarged kitchen, lift access to upper areas/ disabled refuge, additional toilets, an extra mezzanine floor, and a fully restored Lesser Hall
- a centre section with a large multi-purpose performance space with retractable seating, greatly enhanced with the introduction of natural light and restoring original features that have been covered over
- a rear section with three levels of flexible work space, balcony seats over Main Hall, additional toilets and lift access/disabled refuge.
How will the Forres Town Hall Regeneration Project be funded?
We have a comprehensive fundraising plan to raise the total project costs which are estimated at approximately £3.4 million. This will include making funding applications to a wide variety of grant funding bodies and trusts, such as for example, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and The Robertson Trust.