'Keep Worden Hall at the centre of our community,' Leyland public tells council

The people of Leyland have given their thoughts on the future use of Worden Hall.

And the consensus is to use the iconic Leyland park with community interest at its heart.

Worden Hall

Worden Hall

More than 500 residents from across the town and South Ribble gave their thoughts on the proposals for the future of the historic centrepiece of Worden Park as part of a four week consultation in August and September.

READ MORE: What future for Worden Hall? You help decide...

It was launched by South Ribble Council to gauge public opinion on the matter.

From the results an overwhelming 345 – or 65 per cent – said they would prefer the Hall used in aid of the community.

Courtyard at Worden Hall

Courtyard at Worden Hall

The second most popular choice at was to use the venue for small weddings and events, with the idea of using the Hall for large weddings and events coming last on the options presented to residents.

Broadfield ward Coun 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.

South Ribble Coun Matthew Tomlinson, who represents the Broadfield ward, said he is thrilled with the response from the general public

South Ribble Coun Matthew Tomlinson, who represents the Broadfield ward, said he is thrilled with the response from the general public

“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.”

A commitment to take on board the public’s attitudes towards future use of Worden Hall is to be set in stone when South Ribble Council’s Cabinet meets on Wednesday evening (October 16).

A finalised report and an implementation plan is then expected to return before Cabinet in January next year.

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

Coun Matthew 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.

“We care about the future of the Hall as much as you do and we want to do this right.”

In June, the new Labour administration at South Ribble Council put a halt on plans to sell Worden Hall to the Leyland Freemasons.

Council leader, Coun Foster, blasted the borough’s Conservative Group for “pressurising” council officers to conclude the deal in the days after they lost control of power in May – but before a new Labour cabinet had been installed.

The former Tory council leader, Coun Margaret Smith, accused her successor Coun Foster of jeopardising the “best opportunity we have” of securing the future of the historic building.

• To read the full consultation response report visit www.southribble.gov.uk/wordenhall