FEARS have been raised about the future of one Stroud’s oldest and most loved buildings which may be under the threat of closure.
The Grade II listed Centre for Science and Arts in Lansdown was built in Victorian times, and currently hosts a music group, an art class and is used by the council for storing museum artefacts.
The three storey building is owned by Stroud and Rodborough Education Charity (SREC) and was constructed in 1890, originally incorporating the town’s museum, which has since moved to Stratford Park.
SREC is a grant-giving charity which promotes education and has financial involvement with local schools. The charity lets out rooms in building, but urgently requires a new tenant after a previous lease was unfulfilled, leaving it in a state of dilapidation. The repair is estimated to be around £80,000.
Shani Baker, Clerk of SREC, said: “We want to fulfil our charity status of providing funding for schools, but this building is leaving us at a loss. Closing it would be a last resort, but it is a possibility if we cannot find a tenant for the empty rooms.”
She added: “We have instructed property consultants Bruton Knowles to seek a long term tenant for the empty parts of the building- but also suggested the whole freehold could be available for educational purposes.
The centre was built after public demand for a science and art centre, with money from the will of local manWilliam Cole. Stroud’s deputy mayor John Majoram said: “It would be a crime to even contemplate selling it off as the building belongs to the public.”
Councillor Majoram, intends to establish a trust to help save the centre and will invite the public to attend a meeting to discuss it.
“We have a good history of saving buildings in Stroud, so I’m confident” he said.
However former museum curator Lionel Walrond, 86, stressed the need for clarification before anyone panics. He said: “People have strong attachments to the building, but facts need to be separated from emotions. Ownerships is more complicated than many imagine.”
As the building holds many museum items, they will not be able to sell it for three years- the time it takes for the artefacts to be cleared. This should give enough time for a new tenant to be found.
Historically the centre was designed as an art and engineering college- incorporating the town museum. SREC took control in October 2013 from the Lansdown Partnership, which included Waldorf College and Lansdown Pottery.