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Talks to start over Subscription Rooms future

Published: Wednesday, 18 April, 2018

The future of a historic town centre entertainment venue can be secured, after district leaders unanimously agreed to start negotiations with a potential new operator.

Stroud District Council will open talks over Stroud Subscription Rooms with Stroud Town Council, after it made a proposal to take the 184-year-old venue on.

SDC had invited bids for a 30 year lease, and although no bids were received as marketed, one proposal was made by the town council.

Members of SDC’s Strategy and Resources Committee voted to open talks with the town council over a freehold or a leasehold transfer and report back to them to approve any deal.

Council leader Doina Cornell said after the meeting:

"This is a really positive move and we can get cracking now on negotiations to get an agreement as soon as we possibly can."

After Ecotricity’s £300,000 offer was turned down in December 2017 because district councillors wanted to keep the building in public ownership, bids were invited again for an operator to run it for public arts, community and entertainment use.

The town council has asked SDC for a 39 year lease at £1 per year, plus a £230,000 grant to an independent charitable trust to run it, and for £156,000-worth of structural repairs to be carried out. Under the town council’s proposal, Stroud District Council would have to subsidise the venue for the next financial year at a budgeted cost of £227,000. The town council would contribute £50,000 of working capital and meet the insurance premium for the property.

The terms of the transfer will be subject to negotiation, and will need final approval from the Strategy and Resources Committee. The committee voted unanimously to support this, on Thursday, April 12.

The history of the building dates back to October 6, 1832, when land known as Kendrick’s Orchard was conveyed to trustees to build Stroud Subscription Rooms. Some £3,050 had been raised through the sale of shares at £50 each, and the venue opened on October 24, 1834.

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