The new owners of Settle Town Hall say they are committed to ensuring the building remains a key part of life in the town.
After months of speculation, it has been confirmed the landmark building has been purchased by Marshall Taylor Properties.
Craven-born Jeremy Taylor, from the firm, said he is committed to restoring the building and retaining key elements, including the Tourist Information Centre, the Cellar Project for young people and ground-floor shops.
He said: “We are very proud to take ownership of such an outstanding historic property, particularly as I have been brought up in the local area and I am very fond of the town.
“Our current intentions are to sympathetically restore the building to reflect much of George Webster's original use for the property from 1832, providing a series of boutique shops on the ground floor, with offices and apartments above.
“We are buying the property with the existing tenancies in place and look forward to working with each of the local businesses and services currently based in the building. During the purchase process we have renewed agreements with both the Tourist Information Centre and the Cellar Project to secure these services for visitors and the young people of Settle for years to come.”
Whether the town council will remain in the building is less clear. Town clerk Peter Leng said: “At this stage, no decision has been taken regarding the occupation of its office in the town hall. However, certainly for the next meeting of the town council on Monday, January 9, 2012, it has decided to hold this at the Victoria Hall, Settle.”
One thing that will not change, Mr Taylor said, is the tradition of decorating the hall with Christmas lights each year.
He added: “There is no doubt a long road ahead in bringing the property back up to a high standard, but we hope our efforts in renovating the building will benefit the town and the local community. We are not thinking short-term. This is a lifetime purchase. It is such an important place so we need to get it right.”
It is understood Craven District Council sold the town hall for about £250,000, although Mr Taylor said hundreds of thousands of pounds would have to be spent to bring the building up to scratch.
District council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton said: “Due to financial constraints the council was left little choice but to find a new owner for Settle Town Hall. We are delighted that Marshall Taylor Properties is making plans to sympathetically restore the building, and already the TIC and Cellar Project have finalised future tenancy agreements.”