Ossett Town Hall: Funding gap as refurbishment more than doubles to £4.3m

The cost of renovation work at Ossett Town Hall has risen to more than £4.3m, according to Wakefield Council.

The local authority said it has been left with a £1.9m funding gap as costs to carry out work on the building has more than doubled.

Senior councillors are expected to agree to release a further £1m to complete the work when they meet on June 18.

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Restoration work to the Grade II listed building, on Market Palce, is being carried out to the roof, clock tower and stonework.

The cost of refurbishing Ossett Town Hall has risen to £4.3m.The cost of refurbishing Ossett Town Hall has risen to £4.3m.
The cost of refurbishing Ossett Town Hall has risen to £4.3m.

The project also involves relocating the town’s library from the ground floor to the first floor.

Details of the spiralling costs are outlined in a report to the council’s cabinet members.

The document says the initial project involved relocating the library and £0.5m of funding was granted in 2018.

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In 2020, the council approved an additional budget of £1.7m after it was discovered that major renovations were needed.

The report adds: “Following a procurement exercise to appoint a contractor and further additional works being identified, a total budget of £4.3m is now required to complete the project, resulting in a funding gap of £1.9m.”

Cabinet members are expected to agree to inject £1m into the council’s capital programme to enable the work to be completed.

The council was criticised last October when the cost of the work was thought to have risen to £3m.

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Tony Homewood, then an independent councillor for Ossett, told a full council meeting he had found out about the extent of the work required during a tour of the building.

He said: “We went all the way up to the town hall clock, which is rotten to pieces and having to be all replaced.

“What came to light on this visit was that, somewhere along the line, somebody decided to carry out a survey on a building that’s over 100 years old, with a drone.

“Quite clearly, you can’t carry out a proper survey on a building of that nature with a drone.”

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Mr Homewood said he had been told by the contractor that they had been asked to give a quote for the work based on the drone footage.

“We have now got a budget that went from £1.2m, I believe, and it is almost approaching £3m,” he added.

In response, councillor Les Shaw, cabinet member for property and resources, said the authority needed to “look at how we do things better in the future”.

In April this year, further repair work to the clock tower was approved to prevent the building from becoming ‘structurally unsound’ after steel beams were found to be corroded.

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Natalie Palmer, the council’s interim service director for property, has previously apologised for delays in completing the work, saying: “We share everyone’s frustration that the refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is taking longer than expected and apologise for the disruption caused.

“Any additional work we have discovered during the refurbishment has had to follow the strict guidance that applies to such old buildings, and this has led to unexpected delays.

“The preservation of Ossett Town Hall is really important to us, and the people of the town, and we are working hard to complete the work as soon as possible.”

The building opened in 1908 and served as a civic centre, magistrates’ court and offices for Ossett Borough Council until 1974, when Ossett became part of Wakefield Council.

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