CONTROVERSIAL plans to remove furniture from Haverfordwest’s historic Shire Hall will not be finalised without a fight, town councillors say. In February, Red Dragon Development applied to Pembrokeshire County Council to remove the courtroom’s seating and infill the floor of the Grade II listed building.

The application was met with strong opposition from Haverfordwest Town Council.

Following a meeting with the Civic Society, Cllr Charles Davies said: “The fixtures are part and parcel of the historic Shire Hall and when the lease was signed by Red Dragon, it was agreed that no alterations would be made to the building.

“As far as we are concerned, they knew the conditions before they signed the lease. We see no reason why they should be changed.”

But Red Dragon’s Nick Heywood said that when applying for planning permission, he was only asked to “propose uses for the principal spaces, especially the main courtroom, that would still allow public access.”

Mr Heywood said: “This remains the intention. The property sits in the centre of Haverfordwest but in its current format has not attracted any interest from a group or individual that could be considered commercial or sustainable.

“The decision to make an application to remove the seating was simply to attract a use for the space that would get the building back into use, be of some benefit to the community and provide income for the high cost of upkeep of the building.”

Cllr Davies pointed out that other county councils had made use of their Shire Halls for museums or other educational purposes and suggested that the town’s courtroom should be made into a similar historical attraction.

It was agreed that a public meeting should be held within the Shire Hall courtroom to draw attention to the matter and suggested that a formal request be made for the building to be used for mayor-making next year.

Developers say 'furniture was added later'

RED Dragon’s Nick Heywood said that one major factor in the decision to apply for the removal of seating was their discovery that it was not original but a later 20th century addition.

He said: “The existing format only suits a courtroom and that is the one use that we know will not work by virtue of the fact it had to be closed as it didn’t meet modern regulations.

“We have reports on the potential uses, all of which require the seats to be removed to provide a space that allows performance or receptions, perhaps exhibitions.

“As far as I am aware Haverfordwest has no space currently used for this purpose so we are hopeful of a positive outcome on the current listed building application.

“This Shire Hall sits in the centre of Haverfordwest and was unused for over ten years. I don’t really understand why anyone would want the main chamber to remain unused and out of public use for the sake of some seating that is not original.”