‘Long slog’ ahead to restore Sheffield Old Town Hall

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A group fighting to save one of Sheffield’s most iconic buildings hopes to acquire the it and work with a developer to bring it back into use.

The Friends of Sheffield Old Town Hall want to breathe new life into the Grade II listed city centre building.

But the former home of the city council and magistrates’ court, built in 1807/8, is in a bad state, and the cost of restoring it is likely to be high.

It has been on the market with Sheffield-based Fernie Greaves, at a guide price of £1,250,000, since the start of the year.

Friends chairman Valerie Bayliss said: “It’s going to be expensive, partly because of the state it’s fallen into.

“Part of the roof has fallen away. There are two areas of very serious water damage. That’s not good, and we are hoping the council will shortly use its statutory powers to get the roof fixed.

“What the Friends are now doing is talking to a lot of people about whether we can put together a partnership of some kind to acquire the building and put it to good use and get it restored.”

The possible options are varied, but the Friends believe commercial use will have to be considered.

“We feel reasonably optimistic it can be done,” said Valerie. “We want to keep a fully open mind on future uses because we don’t want to discourage anyone.

“We do have advice that residential conversion would be difficult. It’s going to have to be some sort of mix. They might look at some commercial use. Food and drink, digital workspace. Or a more community use. It’s got to be financially sustainable.

“We would like to find a commercial partner who will be sensitive to the needs of an old building like that and is prepared to work with non-commercial interests as well.”

The plan is long term, but the will is there.

“This is going to be a long, hard slog. We know that,” said Valerie.

“It would take something like five years to raise the cash. There’s no point in fooling ourselves that it’s going to be easy.”