The future of one of Chelmsford s most iconic buildings looks bright after owner Essex County Council agreed a deal to secure its future.
The Grade II listed Shire Hall within Chelmsford City Centre has been empty for over two years following the relocation of the Magistrates Court.
Following a bid process in which interested parties were able to put forward business plans and offers for the building, Aquila Developments, the developer and owners of the new John Lewis store, have been selected as the preferred developer of Shire Hall.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: Throughout the process the Council has been looking for a bid that would both make good use of what is a unique building but also be a long term solution. The finances and business plan had to stack up, and I am very pleased that Aquila has been selected with a plan to incorporate a restaurant and also create an area for community use.
The company have a very good track record in terms of the stores they have already brought into the city centre, and this deal will not only bring further investment into the city by bringing back into use an empty building, it will help the on going regeneration of that end of the High Street.
We look forward to seeing their detailed plans which will of course have to go through the planning process with the City Council.
Neil Ridley of Aquila added: We are delighted that our proposal has been chosen by the County Council for this iconic building and to bringing it back into active use. This will allow the public to see Shire Hall s architectural beauty both inside and out, a shared goal of both the County and City Council with whom we look forward to working closely to deliver . This will further assist regeneration at this end of the High Street and formation of a restaurant quarter by linking with the redevelopment at the top of High Chelmer as well as securing the long term future of one of Chelmsford s most important buildings.”