A CAMPAIGN has begun to create a new community hub in Otley to compensate for the loss of the Civic Centre.

The Grade II Listed building is due to be sold via a one-day online auction that starts on December 8 - for a guide price of just £135,000.

Owners Leeds City Council want to sell the property, which has been closed since 2010, along with a number of other assets to help plug an anticipated multi-million pound budget shortfall for the coming year.

The impending sale prompted four residents - Matt Hardin, Nickie James, Steve Fairholme and Phil Snell - to look into what could be done and they have now formed a group, Otley Civic Hub Support, dedicated to ‘addressing the loss of this important community asset’.

They concluded that the amounts needed to purchase and restore the Civic Centre would be prohibitive so they came up with an alternative plan, as Chair Nickie James explained.

She said: “It is apparent from the condition of the building that the cost of purchase and restoration would be in the millions - which in all likelihood precludes local crowdfunding as a means to reinstate this important community asset.

“We were advised by a local construction engineer, familiar with the fabric and condition of the Civic Centre, that the renovations of the old hall would surpass the costs of building a new one. We propose to explore an alternative solution to construct a completely new, purpose-built, energy-efficient community facility via a combination of crowdfunding, fundraising events and grants.

“In terms of putting forward a financially realistic project our first enquiries for support have been encouraging. We are in discussion with the governors of Leeds College of Building regarding a charity partnership initiative. We are also drafting up a list of potential benefactors that we would plan to approach.

“And we will act as a hub to record and present the strength of support within the community which we will use to lobby the council.

“Mandated on the strength of the community’s support, we would seek for Leeds City Council’s planning department to discuss how they would support us in bringing to life any feasible proposals that we as a community seek to put forward.”

Otley Civic Hub Support is putting a website together which will go live soon and the group will also be running an online petition and a donation page.