New owner of Sheffield’s Old Town Hall invited to meet campaigners
The new owner of Sheffield’s crumbling Old Town Hall has been invited to meet the campaigners fighting to save the building.
The Grade II-listed landmark which once housed the city's courts has changed hands, it emerged last weekend, but it is not yet known who has bought the building.
The Friends of the Old Town Hall, who have been campaigning since 2014 to get the building restored, today issued an open invite to the mystery buyer to attend their upcoming meeting.
The group also called for urgent repairs to be completed to prevent further damage to the dilapidated premises opposite the old Castle Market site.
Brian Holmshaw, joint honorary secretary of the friends, said: “We invite the new owner to meet us at our next open meeting on March 28.
“He’ll find a friendly audience of people enthused by the few comments that have been made in public about the owner’s plans for the building.
“The previous owners, G1 London Properties, never bothered even to reply when we asked them to meet, but we’re a community group that’s always been ready to talk to anyone aiming to restore this wonderful building with proper respect for its architectural and historic significance.”
Mr Holmshaw added that although some work had taken place over the past month to clear rubbish from the building and make the roof water-tight, the repairs remained 'far from finished’ and rain was still getting in.
The buyer’s identity remains unknown, but Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business and investment, has described him as a Sheffield-based man who ‘loves the building’ and has a ‘really good vision’ for its restoration.
The friends have put together proposals to restore the building for use by the community, which they estimate would cos at least £10 million, and hundreds of people had signed a petition calling on the council to force the old owners to sell up so they could press ahead with their plans.
The petition remains live as the group says it doesn’t want people to think the problem’s ‘sorted’ with the change of ownership, and Mr Holmshaw added that ‘we’ll be monitoring developments, ready to speak out if need be’.
Joy Bullivant, the group's other joint honorary secretary, said: “We wish the new owner well, and we hope he’ll come and talk to us.
“But if it does run into the sand, the friends will still be here, ready to move on with the plans we’ve worked out for regeneration, able to demonstrate great public support but relying ultimately on the council to help them move forward.”