Consultations begin next week on a new vision for the site of the Tower Gardens Pavilion in Skegness after a surveyor found the historic building at risk of falling down.
Cracked walls, rising damp, extensive corrosion of the metal framework, holes in the roof, collapsed floors and rotting woodwork are the shocking discoveries listed in the surveyor’s report - meaning there is a high risk costs for any renovation could escalate to more than £2.5 million.
Added to this there are fears if the 138-year-old building is not demolished soon ‘a high wind could blow it down’.
The new proposals for a community hub follow a £50,000 grant awarded to Skegness Partnership in December last year by the Coastal Revival Fund.
Since then Steve Larner, clerk to Skegness Town Council, and the Partnership have been working extensively to find a way forward.
Plans for the £3.5 million hub go on show next week. The building would be glass-fronted to reflect its natural surroundings and feature a heritage centre, high quality tea room, gallery, multi-function room, community enterprise units, toilet facilities, offices and a Tourist Information point. It would also become the headquarters of rent paying Skegness Town Council and a new home for the Secret Garden Children’s Day Nursery.
Linda Meecha, owner of the nursery, supports the plans and hopes others will too.
She said: “It costs me £2-3,000 a year on maintentance and repairs. That’s money I could be spending on the children or employing an apprehntice with the chance of a job.
“The uncertainty has also meant I’ve lost business because people think I’m closing, which is not the case.”
Tower Gardens Preservation Group campaigners, who launched a last-ditch attempt to drum up support for a £900k renovation of the current building in February last year, also support them.
Treasurer Linda Stone said: “Although saving the building was our primary goal, after many extensive investigations we do understand that this is not a viable option.
“Skegness Town Council has come up with the next best thing - to have a new building which will have many functions, as well as a Heritage Centre in which items and photographs from the original building along with many more heritage items will be on show.
“We are so pleased our campaign was not in vain.”
Residents now have two choices regarding the future of the Tower Gardens Pavilion in Skegness - watch it deteriorate further and possibly fall down or get behind plans for the new £3.5 million community hub.
Town clerk Steve Larner said: “I know many will be disappointed the pavilion cannot be saved. The reality is it is in such a dilapidated state a high wind could blow it down.
“But the new building could be the heritage of tomorrow for the next generation and beyond – a community facility that creates jobs and is owned by Skegness for the people of Skegness.
“Critical to any solution is the need for it to be sustainable, which with the Town Council as rent paying tenants and the nursery, as well as the café, the new build would be.
“We have to act fast to meet the funding deadline with the Coastal Communities Fund and show it’s something that the public wants, which is why we are asking residents to take part in a survey.”
John Chappell, chairman of Skegness Partnership, said: “We are very excited by the project. We have come up with something new instead of looking backwards. It will revitalise Tower Gardens and bring it in line with the new play area and other developments happening across the town, as well as create sustainable jobs, and we would encourage the public to take part in the consultation.”
The public meeting in the Town Hall takes place on Wednesday, June 8, from 2-4pm and 7- 8pm.
On Thursday, June 9, there will be an opportunity an opportunity to chat to members of the town council working on the project, see plans and give your comments from 12noon until 3pm.
A website www.towergardenspavilion.co.uk will also be launched tomorrow and there will be a Facebook page.