Sheffield Old Town Hall: Property developer revealed as new owner - and this is what could happen to landmark

The new owner of the Old Town Hall is a well known property developer in Sheffield, The Star can reveal.

Friday, 18th February 2022, 5:17 pm

Gunes Ata, also known as Gary Ata, is the sole director of a new company, The Court House Apartments (Sheffield) Ltd, which took ownership on December 23.

It took out a loan from Birmingham-based lender SPF Bridging Ltd the same day.

The Star contacted Mr Ata for comment. But the name of the new firm gives an indication of the future he has planned for the listed building.

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The new owner of the Old Town Hall is a well known property developer in Sheffield, The Star can reveal.

WHAT OTHER PROJECTS HAS THE COMPANY DONE IN SHEFFIELD?

Data from Companies House shows Mr Ata is the director of 11 other companies, some of them controlling apartment buildings in Sheffield including the Lightbox, The Hub, Printworks, London Court, Kelham Works and St Mary’s House.

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They, and The Court House Apartments (Sheffield), are all registered to Unit 4, Town Meadows Way, Uttoxeter, and were all incorporated in 2020 or 2021.

Disused for 25 years, the building is water-damaged and vandalised.

Mr Ata, aged 47, is boss of Noble Design and Build based in Telford. Its website states the company was founded in 2001 and won Builder of the Year in 2016.

It works around the country on ‘developments ranging from individual family homes to large city centre accommodation blocks of up to 1,000 flats and private gated communities of housing and apartments as well as a mixture of commercial properties’.

Buildings in Sheffield include: The Hub, on Cross Bedford Street in Netherthorpe (80 apartments – September 2017), London Court on London Road (90 apartments – April 2015), St Marys House, London Road (101 apartments – September 2015), Printworks, Hodgson Street near The Moor (162 apartments – August 2016), Kelham Works, Russell Street, Kelham Island (56 apartments – September 2017), Sheffield Central (169 apartments ‘completing’ 2019), and The Woodlands in Chesterfield, a ‘private gated community’ of 15 apartments and 15 houses.

Sheffield Central is listed under ‘current opportunities’ is offering investors eight per cent return guaranteed for three years with flats priced between £83,000 and £89,000.

Previous owner Efe Omu obtained planning permission for 12 apartments, 12 hotel rooms, a roof terrace and commercial use on the ground floor and basement.

WHAT IS THE RECENT HISTORY OF THE BUILDING?

Built in 1808, the Old Town Hall - which also housed Sheffield’s courts - has been disused for 25 years.

It was bought by Sheffield developer Efe Omu for £750,000 in January 2020.

The name of the new firm gives an indication of a possible future for the listed building.

He obtained planning permission for 12 apartments, 12 hotel rooms, a roof terrace and commercial uses on the ground floor and basement.

He started the mammoth task of repairing the water-damaged and vandalised building.

But he was unable to meet repayment deadlines due to lockdown, leading to the scheme being in default with lenders.

Land Registry records show that by September 2020 restrictions had been introduced preventing the sale of the building without the written consent of lenders TFG Capital, in Doncaster, and Huddle SPV 4, in Leeds.

Mr Omu’s company, Aestrom OTH Ltd, collapsed and responsibility for the building passed to Sheffield insolvency company Wilson Field.

It was put up for sale in the summer and attracted several offers.

But then Wilson Field put it up for auction with a reserve of £750,000 - a big drop on its original £1.35m asking price. It failed to attract any bids and remained on the market with Pantera Properties for £750,000. It sold following a ‘flurry’ of bids and ‘best and final offers’ in December.

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