Thousands of couples planning to tie the knot at Milton Keynes picturesque Register Office will be forced to get wed at the not-so-scenic civic offices instead.
The council plans to close down Grade 11 listed Bracknell house in Fenny Stratford because it is no longer “fit for purpose.”
For decades local people have used the facility to register births, deaths, and get married – often using the pretty gardens as a backdrop for their wedding photos.
Already the closure plan has prompted criticism from opposition Conservative councillors, and member of the public Paul Canavan has even launched a petition to persuade the Labour-run council to change its mind.
Mr Canavan said: “Bletchley register office is probably one of the most recognisable landmarks in Milton Keynes. The gardens for pictures are perfect. Plenty of people have been there for one thing or another.”
He added: “To move it to an office block in CMK is unforgivable.”
Conservative spokesman for Bletchley East Angela Kennedy has backed residents’ calls.
She said: “There has been huge upset locally. Residents, not just in Fenny Stratford and Bletchley but across MK, have been loud and clear they do not want this to happen. I’m not convinced the Civic Offices offer the kind of venue people want to get married in”.
This week MK Council gave the first glimpse of how the new wedding venue would look in the civic office's 80-seater celebration room, which they are calling the 'Flowers Suite'..
Council leader Pete Marland said it would be more "cost effective" for people to get married there.
He said: “Sadly the old register office building in Bletchley is no longer fit for purpose, with disabled access being very limited, which has caused issues, particularly around registering deaths.”
Pete added: “We looked at a few options a number of years ago when the decision was made, and moving the service to the Civic Offices was the most cost effective, and it will mean that larger ceremonies can be held there.
“No two weddings are alike and what people want varies hugely, but I’m told a bigger, good value, city centre venue has gone down well at wedding fairs.”
When asked what would happen to the old Register Office building he said: “We have no plans for it at moment.”