A new vision for disused Haverhill Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange, Haverhill . ENGANL00520130209141832
The Corn Exchange, Haverhill . ENGANL00520130209141832

It has stood empty and neglected for many years, but now a new proposal is being examined for the future use of Haverhill’s Corn Exchange building in Withersfield Road.

At Haverhill Town Council’s full meeting on Tuesday (20) all bar one of the members voted in favour (the exemption was an abstention) of a proposal tabled by the mayor, Cllr Betty McLatchy to approve funding of between £5,000 and £10,000 for a full structural survey being done on the building to identify what works are necessary to stop any further deterioration.

Over the past few years many suggestions have been explored for the Grade II Listed building, which is also listed with the borough council as an asset of community value but is privately owned, including turning it into a wine bar and restaurant, a computer training centre and for flats with training rooms underneath - but none have progressed beyond an exploratory stage.

Now Cllr McLatchy has tabled the idea of turning it into a centre for civic use.

She explained: “What I would like to see is for it to become a town hall with all civic duties being done there. For it to be a council chamber and an office for the registration of births, deaths and marriages, as any other town has got.

“We don’t want to lose the building and if it deteriorates more we would lose it. Architecturally we need to keep it for Haverhill.

“I’m terrified it would end up deteriorating and be taken down. You can’t lose a building like that.”

Mrs McLatchy wants the arts centre to be given over fully for cultural activities and also believes that because Haverhill is growing so fast and more people want to attend town council meetings that the Studio room used to hold them is no longer big enough for the task.

Mrs McLatchy believes a full structural survey will give a full indication of the scale of the project, adding: “Once we have got an idea of what it costs we can think ahead.”

Town clerk Colin Poole added: “It’s always going to be a challenge because it’s a listed building and it needs a lot of money to get it back into a usable condition.

“If we get a survey done we know for our own purposes what the state of that building is so we can go to the borough council, or the conservation officer, and say this is the state of the building and this work needs doing to it and you need to take enforcement action on the owners to get something done about it.”