THE future of Weymouth’s Old Town Hall has been secured for community use after a deal was struck that will see the historic building used as an art heritage centre.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee has agreed to lease the building to the Chapelhay Community Partnership.

The terms of the lease will see the building restored to be used as an art heritage centre focusing on the Siege and Battle of Weymouth during the English Civil War.

The council’s spokesman for finance and assets, Councillor Peter Chapman, said: “We see this as a tremendous opportunity to preserve part of Weymouth’s heritage by working with the Chapelhay Community Partnership, who are seeking to restore the building and make it available to the community.

“The partnership has some impressive plans and we wish them well for the future.”

The Grade 2 listed building in High West Street has been unused since 2005 and the leasehold has been on the market since 2007.

Vice-chairman of the Chapelhay Community Partnership Martin Hedley said: “The Old Town Hall caught my personal attention because it was where my daughter went to Brownies and Guides. I felt strongly that it should be kept for the community for use in the future.”

Mr Hedley said that the Chapelhay Partnership Committee was interested in the hall as soon as the property came on the market but determination to push on with the project was fuelled by a visit from some re- enactors during an annual meeting at the Chapelhay Tavern.

He said: “To our amazement, a group of people burst into the room wearing 17th-century dress including swords and armour, stating that if we were going to save the hall they would join the committee.

“They informed us of the historical importance of the hall and I offered to spearhead our campaign to acquire the lease.”

Mr Hedley added: “Many people have contributed to where we are today, and we are delighted to have this opportunity.”