THE future of Stourport's Civic Centre and Hall has been secured after councils put pen to paper as refurbushment projects are due to get under way.

The transfer of ownership from Wyre Forest District Council to Stourport Town Council is now complete after a gruelling three-year process and contracts have also been signed by Worcestershire County Council for a £1.8 million refurbishment of the Civic Centre and by the district council for a £450,000 contribution to revamping the hall.

Once completed, the centre will become a mixed-use hub and include a library, the Worcestershire Coroner's service, business starter units and other facilities, together with the construction of a lift and cycle shelter.

If everything goes to plan, it is hoped the new-look Civic Hall will open in September and a phased reopening of the Civic Centre will start later this year.

UK Independence Party town councillor John Holden, chairman of the cross-party project steering group, said: "This is an exciting time for Stourport. We have saved the Civic Centre and other partners within a more modern and energy-efficient building."

John Caldwell, of the Civic Group - which has been helping promote the theatre hall - added: "This has secured the Civic Hall in Stourport for the future."

Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, speaking as district council acting leader before a vote to find a permanent successor to ex-leader John Campion was due to take place last night, said: "This is the most significant community asset transfer believed to have been undertaken in Worcestershire so far.

"We are looking forward to seeing a new era for the Civic Centre and Hall. It is really great news for residents, who will be able to access a range of social events and public services in a modern, energy-efficient centre."

On behalf of the county council, Conservative Mr Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, added: "Residents will benefit from a first-class centre for the community, where they will be able to access a range of services from the county council and other partners."

Worcestershire hopes to off-load the County Buildings, Worcester Street, which currently house Stourport Police Station, Library and the Coroner's service, for £500,000.

The project steering party and Civic group have been working to create the community hub since Wyre Forest announced it was vacating the site in 2011 and left in September, 2012. The work of the volunteers has caught the eye of the national Theatres Trust and Mr Caldwell will address the body's conference later this month.