Restaurant and bar plans on table for historic hall

Date: Friday 22nd June 2018
Appleby Moot Hal
Appleby Moot Hal

PLANS to turn part of Appleby’s historic moot hall into a restaurant and bar have been put before the town council.

The proposal is one of eight designs which the council is considering as the Grade II listed building is set to be updated in conjunction with the Appleby Heritage Action Zone scheme.

Plans drawn up by Crosby Granger Architects, of Kendal, will be put before residents in a public consultation to be held at the moot hall from 3pm-7pm on Thursday, 5th July.

The controversial plan to create a restaurant, kitchen and bar could see the existing retail units and tourist information centre exhibition space merged. The restaurant would operate directly underneath the historic council chamber.

The designs range vastly in the extent of work suggested, from simply adding an internal lift for disabled access to the first floor council chamber to creating a museum in the building or even demolishing part of it and building a new three-storey extension.

At a meeting of Appleby Town Council on Wednesday, town clerk Caroline Dodgeon said councillors needed to consider the plans and each pick their three preferred options. These three selected plans would be looked at in more detail and costed.

Hugh Potts said the council needed to preserve the “dignity and history of the moot hall” and also consider the expense to Appleby taxpayers.

He said he did not see how a proposed first floor museum in the existing mayor’s parlour could be viable. Given the number of public services the town council had recently taken on it could be another financial burden.

“At the minute, to go down the museum route would be putting another millstone around our necks and the necks of ratepayers,” he said.

“There is no such thing as a free meal and if we get a grant we will have to consider the additional costs to be borne.”

Mr Potts later clarified that while the cost of renovation work might be covered by grants, the ongoing costs to maintain and run a museum in the future would fall on the town council.

Gareth Hayes said he did not believe the concept of a museum being created was a black and white issue and it should be investigated to see if it would be financially viable.

Andy Connell said it should be made clear all options are subject to external funding and that funding projects as a town council would be “out of our league”.