In December 2011, Williams Lester submitted a planning and listed building consent application for the regeneration and restoration of Blandford Forum’s Grade I Georgian Town Hall and Council Buildings.
The culmination of seven years of painstaking design work and consultation with English Heritage and the local planning department, the proposals present an exciting opportunity to regenerate these historic buildings and enable them to be self-financing through greater community use.
The proposals include the insertion of a frameless glazed screen to internalise the arched colonnade (known as The Shambles), new ancillary facilities providing feature staircase and lift, and restoration of the Corn Exchange to provide a flexible multi-purpose facility for a wide range of community and performing arts uses.
To the rear of the site, the scheme proposes the replacement of the existing, sub-standard single storey Council Offices with a four story building, in the Georgian vernacular style, with a well serviced new Council Chamber on the top floor.
An interesting aspect of the scheme was the treatment of the open loggia on the frontage, which, under the proposals will be enclosed behind a glazed screen. This proved a stumbling block with English Heritage who were concerned that the reflections and glazing framework would be visually distracting and the feeling of openness would be lost. We overcame this by specifying a very low reflectance glass (as used in car showrooms) and a frameless, planar glazing system – so the glazing will be barely discernible.