Weddings and civil ceremonies will continue to be held at a historic East Sussex location after two councils agreed a ‘land swap’ deal.
East Sussex County Council and Lewes District Council say the exchange of Southover Grange and The Maltings will benefit both authorities and ensure the future of two landmark Lewes buildings.
The county council, which leases part of the district council-owned Southover Grange for its registration office, had been considering moving the facility to more accessible and suitable offices.
However, the service will now remain in the 16th century manor house after the county council agreed to take over ownership of the entire building, in exchange for The Maltings, historic home of the East Sussex Record Office, which is moving to The Keep, a new £19 million archive centre in Moulsecoomb.
The proposals include a restriction that the public car park at The Maltings continues to be used for that purpose.
The planned exchange of the two buildings was approved at a county council meeting on Tuesday 16 July 2013, while arrangements are in place for the leader of the district council, James Page, to approve the scheme.
Cllr Page said: “This is a ‘win win’ situation for everyone and shows the benefits of both councils working to achieve the best outcome for local people.
“I am pleased to have been able to take a lead in the discussions which will assist the county council to remain at Southover Grange, while Lewes District Council plans to take ownership of The Maltings.”
Cllr Chris Dowling, county council lead member for community services, said: “Southover Grange provides a stunning location for weddings and other ceremonies such as civil partnerships, naming ceremonies and citizenship ceremonies, for which there has been an increasing demand in recent years.
“However, the current registration office, on the first floor of the building with no lift access, is limited in its size, scope and accessibility.
“Taking over the building will allow us to create an enhanced and improved registration office on the ground floor, with more spacious facilities, accessible to all.
“We’re aware that people feel strongly about the Grange as a venue for weddings and other ceremonies and this agreement, which will benefit both councils, will allow it to continue in this valuable role.”
Part of the ground floor of Southover Grange is occupied by The Guild, a local partnership of artists and craftsmen, which will form part of the exchange.