AN INDEPENDENT community panel could be formed to determine the Maidenhead town hall’s future if council decides to move out.

At a cabinet meeting on Thursday, April 29, senior councillors approved to launch a review of the Royal Borough’s ‘outdated’ headquarters in St Ives Road on whether they want to invest ‘significantly’ into refurbishing the building or move out to a ‘fit for purpose’ office space.

According to the report, the town hall, built-in 1962, has become ‘too costly’ to maintain and it cannot meet the local authority’s climate target as its energy performance was deemed ‘only just acceptable’.

To modernise and refurbish the council building for the 21st century, it could cost an estimated £13.8 million.

READ MORE: Council leader denies Maidenhead town hall will be ‘flogged off’

Speaking at cabinet, the leader of the council, councillor Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams) reiterated there is no firm decision to move out of the town hall and the council is not in talks with developers to sell off or demolish the iconic building.

However, he announced if staying at the town hall was not the preferred option, he would like for the building to be retained and an independent community panel could be formed to determine its future if the council were to go down that route.

Cllr Johnson said: “Were we, and this is a big were we, to decide not to stay in the current town hall site and given the strong preference I indicated to retain the core of the existing building given its unique nature and its value to the town, I would be looking to appoint an independent design commission to scope out the brief on what could and could not be achieved within the confines of the aforementioned building.”

Cllr Andrew Johnson, leader of the council

Cllr Andrew Johnson, leader of the council

The leader speculated the town hall could be turned into housing, retail, leisure, or community space.

Since the report began circulating last week, fears of the building being demolished or sold off to developers sprang up.

Opposition councillor Geoff Hill (The Borough First: Oldfield) cautioned senior members if the ‘heart and soul of Maidenhead’ were to go, it would have a ‘psychological impact’ on the town, and this alone should outweigh the ‘financial burden’ to maintain it.

READ MORE: Maidenhead town hall's future unknown as council considers review

He said: “It [town hall] has a very psychological connection that people have within the borough to the town hall and it is a globally famous building, like the Carry On films are.

“It’s a big prestigious asset and I ask for that to be weighed because the impact psychologically on the town if the town hall was to go, and people think it is going to go, would be phenomenal.”

Cllr Johnson replied, saying Cllr Hill’s comments are ‘premature’ as no decision has been made yet and he has a ‘strong preference’ to retain and enhance the building if they were recommended to leave.