Whitchurch Civic Centre's crumbling concrete forces further closures

Crumbling concrete has forced further closures at a council-owned building in Shropshire.

Most of Whitchurch Civic Centre, which also houses the town's library, was shut in September when unsafe Raac concrete was identified.

The problem has been made worse by the "widespread existence" of asbestos, which would be disturbed by any work.

Future options for the site will now be drawn up ahead of a final decision by Shropshire Council in January.

The Raac (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) has been found in numerous buildings across the country, forcing the closure of more than 200 schools, since the government raised safety concerns about it.

The lightweight material was used in flat roofing, floors and walls, between the 1950s and 1990s, as a cheaper alternative to standard concrete, but with a lifespan of only about 30 years.

'Not entirely unexpected'

The civic centre, on High Street, remains unsafe to open, Shropshire Council said.

But the authority is now looking to urgently relocate the library and registrar's office to a temporary home, although it said it was committed to keeping them in the town.

Whitchurch Town Council, also based in the centre, will undertake a review to consider its own options.Dean Carroll, Shropshire cabinet member for housing and assets, said: "This is disappointing, but not entirely unexpected news."

Peggy Mullock, Tom Biggins, and Gerald Dakin, Shropshire councillors for the Whitchurch area, said they were "deeply saddened" by the development, but welcomed the commitment from the county council to respond to the situation early in the new year.

Speaking on behalf of the council, mayor Andy Hall, and Mike McDonald, proper officer, also expressed their disappointment, but accepted the building must remain closed for health and safety reasons.

In the meantime, a temporary base for reception and administrative teams is being arranged for the public to use, along with a council presence in Market Hall.

Affected buildings in the centre:

  • Theatre - closed

  • Function rooms - closed

  • Library - closed but a new home will be found by Shropshire Council

  • Registar - new home will be found by Shropshire Council

  • Whitchurch Town Council - closed, but continues to function elsewhere

  • Sports/Market hall - still operating

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