Ottery set to land Convent

A LONG-awaited community facility for Ottery looks set to become a reality in the new year.

A LONG-awaited community facility for Ottery looks set to become a reality in the new year.

The Town Council exchanged contracts in its bid to buy the Convent in Broad Street last Friday (October 24) and will finally get its hands on the site in the next few weeks.

The building will provide a new home for the council and neighbourhood policing team. Both are hopeful of moving early next year.

Mayor Glyn Dobson said: "We've had our fingers crossed for the last 11 months with negotiations going back and forward. We had to make sure the terms were absolutely right but we are going to have it and the parish will have a better facility in a central location, its great news for everyone.

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"It's important to say this is not just a town building, but one for the parish.

"The public wanted us to purchase it, Robert Neal, Elli Pang were so successful when they did a survey last year and got 1000 signatures in five days. The Convent has always been there and has sat unused for too long. It's important the town owns it. It could have been left neglected for years.

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"The chamber will be bigger and more accessible t the public, a big difference is that there will be a disabled entrance, meaning everyone can come to council meetings."

Mr Dobson said the police will occupy one third of the building and will have a "more visible presence" by having a "shop front", meaning members of the public will be able to talk to someone if needed.

Phil Thomas said: "We are very pleased. This gets us closer to the town centre and the public. Residents will have better access to the station and we are hoping to have a civilian clerk to receive them."

Robert Neal, chairman of the Heritage Society campaigned with Elli Pang, of the Hub Club for the town to retain ownership of the building.

He said: "I'm delighted the building has been saved for the people of the town.

"Many months of hard work has been put in by town councillors. Support from the local community for the acquisition was fantastic and Elli made sure the whole town was behind the project.

"There is a genuine need to re-locate offices to a more practical, central position and to provide increased accommodation for our police."

Elli added: "The survey I did with Robert got such huge support in such a short space of time. I hope it can be a community centre and not just a town hall."

A developer will still own grounds surrounding the building.

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