Sheffield Old Town Hall planning application expected soon after 'constructive' talks

The new owner of Sheffield’s Old Town Hall is expected to submit a planning application imminently, following ‘constructive’ talks with campaigners fighting to save the historic building.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 10:30 am
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 16:34 pm

The Star revealed in March how Aestrom OTH, which is owned by Efekoro Omu, had agreed to buy the crumbling Grade II-listed building on Waingate, in the city centre, from G1 London Properties.

Mr Omu has since met several times with members of the Friends of the Old Town Hall, which had put together its own plans to revive the dilapidated former town hall and courthouse, and it’s understood he has also held discussions with Sheffield Council’s planning department about his vision for the landmark.

Aestrom OTH has remained tight-lipped about its plans for the building, and there has been no public consultation, but campaigners understand a planning application for a mixed-use development is now likely to be submitted in the coming days or weeks.

Sheffield Old Town Hall.

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Valerie Bayliss, who chairs the friends group, said: “We’re expecting the application to go in any day now.

“Mr Omu knows that for us the acid test is how much change he wants there to be inside.

“We’re very pragmatic. We understand that if he’s going to spend money on a building like that and turn it into a working business you can’t preserve every last nail inside.

“We will be supportive if we think he’s been properly respectful of the building, and so far he’s making very helpful and constructive noises.

“We understand he’s going for mixed use and he also talked about doing the work over a long period, both of which make sense.

“We haven’t seen what he’s come up with but we understand he’s had quite a lot of pre-application discussions with the council’s planning officers.”

Mr Omu also owns the former Cannon Hotel pub across the road from the Old Town Hall on Castle Street, on which work is well underway to convert the building to apartments and shops.

Ms Bayliss said the quality of workmanship on that project so far gave her confidence for the future of the Old Town Hall.

“The stonework you can see is starting to look very good, and he appears to be showing there that he can deliver a project and will hopefully be respectful of the building opposite,” she said.

The Old Town Hall dates back more than 200 years and housed the city’s courts before closing in 1996, since when it has remained vacant and fallen into serious disrepair.

News of its sale emerged just days after a petition to save the building had been launched by the friends group earlier this year.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business and investment, said at the time that the buyer had a ‘really good vision’ for the premises.

The Star has attempted to contact Aestrom OTH.