Plans have been submitted to bring Whitby’s historic Old Town Hall back into use for the benefit of residents and visitors.
North Yorkshire Council has lodged two applications, one for building repairs, first floor restoration and Market Place improvements.
The second application is to install sliding glazed partitions within the undercroft of the Grade II* listed building off Church Street.
The aim is to turn the area into a year-round space that can be used for community events and cultural activities alongside the current market on the site.
The uses listed in the applications are for the sale of goods by the market traders, as well as the display of art, a museum and a community meeting space.
The plan was one of six priority projects from the Whitby Town Investment Plan chosen to proceed to delivery under the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Towns Fund programme which saw Whitby secure £17.1 million in funding.
Whitby Town Council and the Whitby Town Deal Board have worked alongside North Yorkshire Council to progress the project, which is worth £1 million.
Match-funding still needs to be secured for the glazed element of the scheme and this will be taken forward once planning permission has been granted.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for open to business, Cllr Derek Bastiman, said: “This project is a great example of councils and the community working together.
“The initial designs for the project included a level stepped platform in the Market Place. Following engagement and public feedback that the step looked out of place, we amended the designs and took it out.
“Once completed, this will revitalise and rejuvenate the Market Place area of Whitby and can be used to provide a space the community can be proud of.”
It is hoped work will start later this year and be completed by March 2025.
Cllr Neil Swannick, the local member for Whitby’s Streonshalh division on North Yorkshire Council, said: “Bringing the Old Town Hall back into use has been a popular idea in Whitby for a long time, so it is very exciting to see it coming to fruition.”
Development and design work for the project has also been aided by a £15,000 grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund.
Cllr Linda Wild, a Whitby town councillor and a member of the Whitby Town Deal Board, has been involved in the project since its inception.
Cllr Wild added: “The aim of this project is to give the town hall a sustainable future as we want it to still be here in 100 years.
“If we get the funding for the glazing, it would allow us to utilise the undercroft all year round.
“There has been some speculation locally that the plans involve a café, and I would like to reassure people that is not the case and never has been.”
The town hall was built in 1788 after being commissioned by Lord of the Manor, Nathaniel Cholmley, and was also the location for the first ever Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society meeting in September 1823.