REDEVELOPMENT work is finally due to begin on Sheffield’s former head post office after it has lain derelict for more than a decade.
The grand grade-II listed building on Fitzalan Square has been empty since 1999 and has become a target for vandals and thieves.
Successive owners have come and gone and ambitious plans for the Victorian building have fallen by the wayside.
The last developers, Your Space plc - which bought the site for £5.3 million in 2007 with a view to building a hotel and offices - went into administration last year.
But now new owners Langland Estates are in earnest talks with the council to finally give the landmark site a new lease of life.
The firm has appointed Sheffield-based architects Axis Architecture to draw up plans and workmen are due to move in next month to start clearing up the site.
Ben Otter, associate at Axis, told The Star substantial work needs to be done to make the building safe, after vandals stole all the lead from the roof, smashed windows and tore off the drain pipes.
“Our main priority is repair. We need to get the asbestos out of the building and make the site safe before we can erect scaffolding and lay new lead on the roof. The previous owners didn’t do a great job of looking after the building.”
Mr Otter said he had been in discussions with council officers to negotiate suitable plans for the site, and estimated blueprints would be submitted for planning permission early next year.
He would not reveal what the new plans involved, but said a hotel - for which the site already has outline planning permission - was not on the cards. He also ruled out the site being used for flats.
Mr Otter added: “Over the next month or so people will see things get moving on the site. We are working on different options and are in discussions with the council.”
A council spokesman said: “We have been working hard in recent years to find alternative proposals for the Post Office buildings and to address the problems of inadequate security, lead theft and vandalism, which are the causes of the current poor condition of the building.
“The owner’s intention is to commence cleaning and repairing the roof in September and we are working closely with them to ensure this is done in an appropriate way and without further delay.”
Sheffield’s head post office was built in 1893, with the grand north and west wings and tower added in the early 20th century.
It was decommissioned in 1999 and has since had three owners, each with their own plans.
In 2008 the 1960s concrete extension on Pond Hill was demolished, but then activity stalled as the markets nose-dived and Your Space collapsed.