MORE than 500 people from across South Ribble have given their views on proposals for the future of the historic centrepiece of Worden Park, Worden Hall.

The four week consultation – one of the biggest the Council has undertaken – ran from 19 August to 13 September 2019 and feedback was received online, through telephone contact and across four drop-in events in the Hall’s Derby Wing, where members of the public could find out more about the proposals and ask questions before they submitted their responses.

After the consultation the majority opted for keeping it for community use with 345 people choosing it as their favoured option followed by a small w2edding or events venue which was the second choice.

Cllr Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for Finance, Property and Assets said, “This is one of the most important consultations the Council will undertake and was essential that we conducted a thorough analysis of the responses received.

“It’s important to make clear that along with the question where respondents chose their “most preferred” option, we also allowed open comment sections for each option posed. When looking at the data as a whole, it became apparent that there was a strong appetite for a Community Use option with the scope to also include small events and small weddings.”

“Comments from respondents, while their preference was Community Use, wanted the Hall to be used for small weddings and events and crucially, wanted the Hall to be commercially viable – not run at a loss – which the Community Use option put forward was anticipated to be.

At a Cabinet meeting on 16 October, it is expected that a commitment to undertake further modelling of the Option1/Option 2 model will be given with a finalised report and implementation plan coming back to Cabinet in January 2020.

It is also proposed that a staff working group will be set up to oversee the modelling work.

Cllr Tomlinson added: “I am thrilled with the response we’ve had to the consultation. We all know that Worden Hall is an iconic building and seeing it falling into disrepair is a tragedy.

“Our respondents agreed that something has to be done and we were pleased that we received comments thanking us for bringing this consultation forward.

“This is complex issue and the responses were no different. We want to make sure we aim to reflect what our community are looking for and we are setting up a working group and modelling a plan to go forward to do just that."