THE future of six key historic buildings in the town could be decided by Government- backed public consultation.

Ledbury people are to be asked their views on the possible future uses of half a dozen town centre properties: the Market House, the present town library (the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute), the town council offices in Church Lane, the Heritage Centre, the Burgage Hall and the Butcher Row Museum.

The Ledbury Civic Society has secured a £400,000 grant from the Government to pay for a feasibility study into asset transfer, the professional surveying of the key buildings and public consultation.

In June, as an initial move, society members Mary Cooper and Alex Clive approached the town council, the owner of the Market House and town council offices, and suggested the council could move into the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute, when it becomes vacant next year.

The town’s new library will be housed in the Master’s house by the end of next summer.

Miss Cooper and Mr Clive suggested a “heritage trail”

could be created to highlight the town’s best buildings and bring more visitors in.

Now it is the turn of Ledbury people to say what they want.

Miss Cooper said: “The whole process is not merely to protect our historic buildings but to find sustainable use, so they are lived in, used buildings – without this, they could die. We want to improve their current use.

These buildings are currently under-used.”

The Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute is likely to stand empty when the library moves out next year.

Miss Cooper said funds were being spent to hire “experts“, such as an architect.

“We have first class people undertaking this professional work,” she said.

But not everyone agrees that all the buildings are under-used.

Councillor Keith Francis said: “The Butcher Row Museum is not under-used, nor the Burgage Hall, and we are trying to do more with the Market House. The Market House is owned by the town and the town council at least consists if people who are elected. If other people ran it, who would they be accountable to?”