This is the state of Sheffield’s Old Town Hall, once a cornerstone of the city’s democracy and justice, it has been left to rot, slowly crumbling away.
Though the Grade II listed building has lain dormant since 1996, the remnants of its role as a council chamber and a law court are still visible among the decaying timber and moulding carpets.
The old meeting benches are still scattered across the main room despite nothing having been done with the Waingate-based building.
Now campaigners battling to see the building brought back into use have slammed the owners’ ‘contempt for the city’ for allowing it to stand derelict.
The Friends Of The Old Town Hall group was set up to campaign for the building to be brought back into use.
After a meeting to discuss the building’s future, the group has now vowed to increase pressure on the owners in the coming months.
The historic building has been owned by a pair of private, London-based businessmen since 2004, but campaigners say it is ‘suffering from increased neglect’.
Group member Victoria Bayliss said concerned residents at the first public meeting criticised the building’s owners for showing ‘contempt for the city’.
She added: “There is anger about what is happening to the shabby building. A petition has been set up and has 1,000 signatures already. The council has been very supportive of us.”
The group is setting up an appraisal of the building and has already raised half the money for it.
“We are going to try to put pressure on the owners of the building because they are letting this listed building go to ruin,” added Ms Bayliss.
“About 14 to 15 years ago there was planning permission to turn it into a nightclub.
“We would welcome any use for the building as long as it respected the building, we have an open mind.”
But the building lying dormant is contributing to its decay, the group argue. Group joint secretary Brian Holmshaw said: “We know the inside has suffered a lot of water damage.
We are going to try to put pressure on the owners of the building because they are letting this listed building go to ruinVictoria Bayliss, Friends of the Old Town Hall
“You can’t leave a building empty for so long without getting deterioration, but the damage now is going beyond that.”
Ms Bayliss said the group is exploring ways the building could be brought back to use.
She added: “The Friends will now move ahead with exploring ways the building could be used in the future and sources of funding to support its re-use.
“We can’t leave it to moulder. It is an eyesore at the moment but has potential as the backdrop to the new Castlegate Park that will showcase the remains of the castle after the archaeological work slated to follow the demolition of the markets. Right now, it’s a drag on development.”
A representative of the Old Town Hall’s owners was contacted for comment but did not respond.