FRIENDS OF THE OLD TOWN HALL
‘Disgusting’, ‘outrageous’, ‘contempt for the city of Sheffield’ – these were some of the comments from people who attended the first open meeting in Sheffield of the Friends of The Old Town Hall.
The campaigning group has been set up to press for the restoration and regeneration of Sheffield’s historic Town Hall and Courthouse, in Waingate. The building has been empty since 1996 and the London-based private company which has owned it for over a decade have given no indication of their intentions for the building’s future. Meanwhile the Grade 2 listed gem is suffering from increased neglect, and campaigners are fearful for its future.
‘We know the inside has suffered a lot of water damage’, said Brian Holmshaw, joint secretary of the Friends’ group. ‘You can’t leave a building empty for so long without getting deterioration, but the damage now is going beyond that’. Meanwhile, the owners have failed to respond to repeated requests by the Friends for a meeting to discuss the Old Town Hall’s future. Strong views were expressed at the meeting as supporters questioned the attitude of the owners and whether there is any way they could be forced to act to repair the damage.
Supporters were able to view displays of project work by students from Sheffield University’s Architecture Department, who have been using the Old Town Hall as the focus for imaginative design work as part of their degrees.
The Friends, who have had constructive discussions with the City Council, 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’, said Friends’ chair Valerie Bayliss. ‘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’.