The renovation of Grade-II listed Charnwood House in Hitchin starts next week with the removal of asbestos.

North Herts Council said its community consultation over the past two years found residents want to see the disused community asset sensitively refurbished into a community hub.

Councillor Keith Hoskins, executive member for enterprise and arts, said: “We are keen to see Charnwood House being used as a community asset again, and to help facilitate its refurbishment we have commissioned a licensed firm to remove the asbestos. This is an exciting step in the project, to create a safe framework for us to move forward and we will be keeping the local community up to date with our progress.”

Cllr Tom Plater, deputy executive member for enterprise and arts, added: “While bringing it back into use, we are keen to see the historic elements of Charnwood House retained, so the refurbishment will be sensitive to the special character of the building, in keeping with its Grade II listed status.”

Charnwood House was donated to the council by a local family for community use and became a museum, but North Hertfordshire Museum opened in Brand Street in 2019 and Charnwood House is empty.

From the public consultation, there was a huge number of suggestions and ideas put forward, the council said, varying from using the building for dance classes and community workshops, to hot-desking for local start-up businesses.

The asbestos clearance will take approximately three weeks, starting from September 19.