A VISION to turn Prestonpans Town Hall into a digital hub for the benefit of the community has been unveiled.

Prestonpans Community Council is bidding to take control of the High Street venue and turn it into an audio-visual and digital haven.

A sub-committee of the community council that was formed when the option for a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of the Town Hall to the group was first offered has come up with a ‘digital destination’ concept – and garnered positive feedback from the community council.

The community council is the only group to have put in a note of interest for the Town Hall, and the sub-committee – featuring DJ Johnston Smith, Calum Miller and Professor Roger Bromley – has now made public its vision for the building.

Their initial idea is to create an audio-visual centre within the Town Hall for gamers and competitions, as well as running educational classes on technology and creating a “digital destination for all” with 4k audio-visual displays, fibreoptic network, high-speed computers, floor space and a cafe.

In the subcommittee strategy, the members state: “The activities which once occupied our Town Hall are not filling it today; we need to think creatively to identify new audiences.

“All of the traditional activities can now be accommodated elsewhere in our town.

“Our Town Hall needs to offer something unique to the community: our challenge is to use our assets to create richer social interactions for all.

“We live in a world where the social networks that helped us advance are increasingly replaced by the digital variety. We are all engaging more online, but the conversations are getting shorter and colder.

“These conversations would be more positive and productive if we could host them in a social context.

“What’s needed is a ‘Face2FaceBook’ where the digital world is used to increase the physical interaction.”

They have suggested that a large screen cover the back of the building behind the stage that could act as a cinema screen, a digital backdrop to a theatre show and a space for presentations and gaming competitions.

Although it is only in the very early stages of planning, the concept was well received by the community council, with member Ferhan Ashiq saying that he was “very impressed with the bold and innovative idea”.

The community council has the option to either lease or buy the Town Hall from East Lothian Council, and this decision has not been officially made yet but will be the next step that is taken, discussing a business plan and the terms of the transfer with the local authority.

The approach is laid out in the strategy, which states that the community council will “review the best practice from elsewhere and arrange research visits to similar facilities. We then refine our idea, seeking feedback from people in Prestonpans. Then we follow the commercial path of least resistance, working with East Lothian Council and other bodies. We bootstrap the idea ASAP with initial funding needed to install the equipment, secure and manage the premise. Then we use the success of the venue to fundraise for improvements and enhancements to the structure of the building to renovate the interior”.

Brian Weddell, chair of the community council, said: “I was delighted that the feedback from community council members was 100 per cent positive.

“It is an exciting and imaginative use of a grossly under-used community asset that could help kickstart the revitalisation of Prestonpans High Street.”

The Town Hall was identified as one of the six viable properties across the county suitable for a CAT, offering local organisations the chance to lease or buy them.