CONCERNS have been raised about the long-term future of a much-loved community arts centre in Dursley.

Kingshill House is currently owned by Stroud District Council, but there are now plans to transfer its ownership to Kingshill House Limited, a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation that has run the building as an arts centre for almost 20 years.

Stroud District Council has released a statement saying the move will ensure the building’s continued community use and will enable the trust to apply for a wider range of grant funding.

But Simon Whiteley, who lives next to Kingshill House, says the plans have not been adequately publicised and that he only found out about them by accident.

He raised the issue on social media after reading council documents which suggested a transfer could take place as soon as March 31.

“Stroud District Council has not let local residents know what it plans to do,” he said.

“What we want is a commitment to a public consultation.”

But council leader Doina Cornell has moved to quash fears.

“You may have come across an earlier discussion about this transfer taking place in March this year but this is not the case now,” she said.

She added: “Kingshill House is a great asset for Dursley and I’m keen to ensure we preserve its long term future as an arts and community venue, so a transfer to the community trust who have run it all this time, is being considered as most likely the best option to do this - although any actual decision will have to come to committee.”

A spokesperson for SDC said: “There is no intention to change the use or user of Kingshill House.

“Any transfer would be subject to Committee approval (via a public report) and would need to be in accordance with relevant statutory requirements and any enforceable covenants affecting the property.”

The Gazette asked SDC how the public can make their opinion on the transfer known.

SDC’s spokesperson said: “At this stage in the process the public can contact their ward councillor or Property Services at SDC estates@

“A press release would be issued prior to any public consultation event and/or the report being considered.”

Mr Whiteley also expressed concern that the building was gifted to the Rural District Council of Dursley in 1935 by Lister’s engineering company, for the council’s own use and for the benefit of Dursley people.

SDC’s spokesperson responded: “We are satisfied that the covenant is no longer a live issue requiring formal consent.

"However, the proposed transfer to the Trust is believed to be within the spirit of the original property transfer and would ensure a charity with almost 20 years’ experience of running the building as a key arts venue and meeting place for the benefit of the community.

“This is supported by Kingshill House being nominated as an asset of community value back in 2014, by Dursley Town Council.”