Ossett Town Hall: Repairs needed to ‘structurally unsound’ clock tower at Grade II-listed building in Yorkshire

Repair work to a town hall clock tower has been approved to prevent the building from becoming ‘structurally unsound’.

Steel beams were found to be corroded during a structural assessment at Ossett Town Hall. The discovery of the damage was the latest set-back which led to costs of the major revamp of the Grade II-listed building more than doubling to £3m.

Work to restore the roof, clock tower and stonework had been due to be completed by the end of 2023, but a number of defects, including rotting timbers, were found in the building in October.

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In December, Wakefield Council approved a new listed building consent application to carry out more restoration work. A further application then had to be submitted after the damage to the steel beams was also discovered. The latest application was approved by the local authority on April 24.

A refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024.A refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024.
A refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024.

A council conservation officer said: “Without the strengthening works, the fabric of the building will deteriorate further, becoming more structurally unsound and an increased health and safety risk. It is important that the building is maintained and repaired in an appropriate manner so that it is safe and can be enjoyed by present and future generations.”

The officer said the work was acceptable and would “preserve the integrity” of the 124-year-old building. The building on Market Place has been surrounded by scaffolding since August 2022.

The work, which also includes relocating Ossett’s library from the ground floor to the first floor, is now expected to be completed this summer.

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Last year, Tony Homewood, independent councillor for Ossett, criticised the council over the delays. The authority said the delays had been caused by new planning applications having to be submitted to get the work completed.

Natalie Palmer, the council’s interim service director for property, previously said: “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.”

Ossett Town Hall 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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