Sheffield’s Old Town Hall buyer revealed as owner of former city centre pub

The buyer of Sheffield's Old Town Hall can be revealed as Efekoro Omu, who also owns a former pub across the road.

By Robert Cumber
Wednesday, 20 March, 2019, 14:10

The 40-year-old businessman is the sole director and 100 per cent shareholder of a company called Aestrom OTH, which was formed in January to manage the development of the historic Grade II-listed building.

Sheffield's Old Town Hall

The Star last month revealed how the landmark was changing hands, with Sheffield Council’s business supremo Councillor Mazher Iqbal saying at the time that the investor had a ‘really good vision' for its future, but the buyer’s identity had remained a closely-guarded secret until now.

The Old Town Hall, which is over 200 years old and housed the city’s courts before closing in 1996, has deteriorated badly in recent years, with photos taken by so-called ‘urban explorers’ showing the extent of its decline.

Aestrom OTH has an ‘agreement for sale’ in place to purchase the property on the Waingate from existing owner G1 London Properties, which bought the building for £650,000 in 2004, according to the Land Registry.

Damage to a former courtroom in Sheffield's Old Town Hall

Mr Omu is also the sole director of a separate company called Aestrom, which last year bought the old Cannon Hotel pub building across the road from the Old Town Hall for £245,000 and recently submitted plans to convert that property into a shop and restaurant/cafe with apartments upstairs.

It is believed the sale of the Old Town Hall has yet to be completed, with the Land Registry still listing G1 as the registered owner, and the price agreed is not known at this stage.

G1 had put the building up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of £2 million, but it was later removed from the market amid rumours the owner was preparing its own plans to convert the property into luxury flats.

Mr Iqbal had described the buyer as being somebody who is ‘Sheffield based’, ‘loves the building’ and ‘loves restoring’, though Mr Omu’s correspondence address is listed by Companies House as a property in Manchester.

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Aestrom OTH said in a statement: “As a local company, we’re delighted to be the new guardians of the Old Town Hall. Taking on the responsibility of preserving this building and putting it back into active use is a real privilege. We have a vision for the future of the building but we’re at the start of a long journey.

“We know there is a lot of interest in the Old Town Hall and we are committed engaging with local stakeholder groups as we move forward with our plans. We will share more information about our vision and plans for the building as our thinking develops. This is a special building and getting its transformation right takes careful thought and time.”

As well as being sole director of Aestrom and Aestrom OTH, Mr Omu is a director of a third company, Mons Martis, which is described as being concerned with the construction of domestic buildings.

He was also a director of SSD Commercial, formerly known as Yoben Investments, which was involved with pubs and bars before being dissolved last May.

News of the sale had emerged just days after a petition to save the historic building was launched by the Friends of the Old Town Hall, which has its own plans to restore the premises.

The friends group has yet to meet the new buyer but it is understood a meeting is due to take place soon.

Mr Iqbal has said of the sale he was ‘very optimistic’ the new buyer had a ‘solution’ which would ‘meet requirements’.

"This building has a special place in our hearts as the first home for the council and latterly as the city’s main court house and we are encouraged that there is fresh interest in the building," he added.