More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to save one of Sheffield’s most historic buildings from deteriorating and bring it back into public use.
The Friends of the Old Town Hall, who launched the petition on Friday, have more than doubled the 500 signature target they were aiming for over the weekend.
On Twitter the group said: “We are blown away by your support. Please continue to sign and share and let’s get this building back off the current owners and return it to the people of Sheffield.”
The Grade II-listed building, located in Castlegate, was once Sheffield’s Town Hall and courthouse which it served as for nearly 200 years. It closed in 1996 and has since been left to deteriorate.
The Friends said: “Years of neglect and a badly leaking roof are destroying the beautiful and historic interior of this once proud symbol of Sheffield’s civic pride. We cannot stand by and let this happen.”
The building was bought by G1 London Properties in 2004 and has been listed for sale. There have also been rumours G1 are preparing to convert the building into luxury apartments, but the planning application has yet been submitted.
The Friends want to restore it to its former glory, with an estimated cost of £10 million. They are now urging Sheffield City Council to use their powers of compulsory purchase so they can achieve this and bring it back into public use.
In their online petition they state: “We have a plan to rescue this building and return it to the people of Sheffield.
“Our vision is to restore the interior and exterior – the wooden panelled historic courtrooms, the judges’ chambers, the underground tunnels and cells, the iconic clock tower and architecture – and create a flagship historic building owned and used by Sheffield people.
“We have done the groundwork. We have a tested business model for new use, a condition survey, and a properly costed schedule of restoration work. We will set up a community benefit society to finance the restoration and create a community share scheme putting the building back into the hands of Sheffield people.”
The council last summer announced plans to spend almost £800,000 on series of projects to kick-start the regeneration of the rundown Castlegate area, which included money for essential repairs to the derelict building.
The petition must gain 5,000 signatures for it to be debated at a full council meeting.
To sign the petition, go to www.change.org/p/julie-dore-sheffield-gov-uk-save-sheffield-s-old-town-hall-before-it-s-too-late?recruiter=933540310&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition