Colchester Borough Council is delighted to announce the restoration of an iconic historic building, which is set to rise from the ashes!
Over the last two years the council has been working with partners to rebuild the former Garrison Gym, a 19th Century building in Circular Road South. The building is on the council’s list of historic buildings and assets which are locally protected.
The former garrison building – which has been renamed as The Abbey Field Centre – was originally transferred to the council in 2010 from the Ministry of Defence, to ensure it would be used to benefit Colchester residents.
However, in 2013, it was severely damaged by a fire. Since 2016 the council has undertaken extensive works to restore the venue – including new flooring, heating, lighting and installing state of the art solar panels – to bring it back into use.
Following an Expression of Interest process, the council is currently negotiating a temporary two-year lease with the Mercury Theatre, which plans to use the building while work is carried out to transform its own venue at Balkerne Gate. The Mercury aims to make use of the building for rehearsal space and community programmes.
The process to find a permanent future tenant for the building will commence over the next 18 months, providing time for interested groups to consider plans, partnership collaborations and funding requirements needed to sustain this unique building.
An open afternoon planned in the next few months will allow residents to view the newly renovated building, which will be available to hire later in the year around the Mercury’s rehearsal and community programme.
Cllr Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Housing, said: “This building doesn’t just have a big part in the area’s history, but thanks to our work to bring it back into use it has a big role in its future too.
“I am delighted that we are nearing the end of what has been a long and complicated project and I’m excited about the long term potential this amazing building has for the local community.”