TOWN councillors have pledged to create a business plan in a bid to lease an empty community building.

Members of Barnard Castle Town Council are keen to take over the Woodleigh premises, on Flatts Road, in Barnard Castle, after Durham County Council advertised the premises for lease earlier this month.

The town council recently registered the building as an asset of community value and, during a meeting last night (Monday, July 28), members unanimously agreed to submit a business plan to put to tender.

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Woodleigh was given to the town for public use in the 1930s.

In recent years it has been used as a Tourist Information Centre, temporary offices during The Witham’s revamp and a library and kitchens for the Love Food project - but has been empty since last month.

Councillor Thom Robinson said: “It is very difficult, I feel like we are in a very hard place.

“My feeling is that this building needs saving from falling down and from commercial use.

“We (the town council) are also in a position where we need to upgrade our offices. Why not get Woodleigh?”

Barnard Castle’s mayor, Cllr John Blissett, said: “History itself denotes that it belongs to the town and it needs preserving for the town.”

Cllr Roger Peat warned that the building needed to be self-funding and added: “We must not end up with it costing a lot of money to run and we must not have to increase the (council tax) precept.”

A third party, whose identity has yet to be made public, has also expressed an interest in working alongside the town council on the bid.

The premises will remain on the market until September 1.