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Architects Theis and Khan appointed for £1.5m Tenterden town hall transformation

By Rachael Woods

A town hall has reached the first stage of its £1.5m transformation with the appointment of award-winning architects who will ensure it’s fit for the 21st century.

Husband-and-wife team Theis and Khan have been given the brief to re-imagine Tenterden Town Hall and the centrepiece of their vision is to create a huge reception area, with the potential to be a hub for visitors to the town and a space for exhibitions.

The town hall focus group selected the practice after a tender process and the Tunbridge Wells partnership has recently been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects for its work on Bat and Ball station in Sevenoaks, which blends contemporary features with the original Victorian details of the buildings.

Tenterden town hall (8053655)
Tenterden town hall (8053655)

Soraya Khan said that balancing the historic with the modern was something that herself and husband Patrick Theis, hoped to apply to Tenterden town hall.

“It is such a warm and welcoming building,” she said. “It has beautiful Georgian details but it has become very cluttered and needs rationalising and opening up.

“The elegance of the Georgian features will be exposed while giving the town hall a contemporary feel.”

The team answered the brief to “sympathetically and innovatively” restore the 1792 town hall, while making it suitable for wider used by the general public.

Architects plan to open the town hall up to create a big central space, which is shown in this early sketch (8073819)
Architects plan to open the town hall up to create a big central space, which is shown in this early sketch (8073819)

In addition to the makeover, money will be spent on restoring the town hall’s decaying roof and introducing a modern heating system, together with improved ventilation.

It is hoped that by opening up the dark foyer, the building will have greater potential as a wedding venue and a place to hold meetings, performances and community activities, all of which could generate income.

Disabled-friendly facilities will be integral to the design, while there will also be private meeting areas built in.

The hall project is one of four major regeneration schemes for Tenterden, partly funded by the £3.5m windfall from the sale of council-owned land for Tent 1 housing - with the remodelling of the recreation ground, a potential cinema and maximising the use of community halls all being pursued.

Tenterden. The Town Clerk Phil Burgess
Tenterden. The Town Clerk Phil Burgess

A cap of £750,000 will be set on expenditure to transform the building and external funding is expected to make up the sum of £1.5m that is needed.

Tenterden town clerk Phil Burgess said: “Theis and Khan impressed the focus group by demonstrating how the town hall can be re-designed for the benefit of the whole town.

“They presented some really eye-catching designs to make the building more welcoming and impressive. A public exhibition of the plans is provisionally scheduled for July and will be well publicised in advance.”

Read more: All the latest news from Tenterden

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