Town Hall’s future will be focus of negotiations
HUNTINGDON Town Hall, which dates from 1745, is just one of 2,230 listed buildings in the district – but it is one of the few that will cost more than £1million to put it into proper order. Estimates vary between £1million and £1.5million just for essenti
HUNTINGDON Town Hall, which dates from 1745, is just one of 2,230 listed buildings in the district - but it is one of the few that will cost more than £1million to put it into proper order.
Estimates vary between £1million and £1.5million just for essential repairs. Then there will be millions more to spend to give the building the sort of vibrant use planners want it to have.
Even when the town hall is restored to the condition it should be in, it will cost around £50,000 a year to keep the fabric in proper shape, the district council's operations director Malcolm Sharp told The Hunts Post earlier this year.
The building's future will be the focus of intense negotiations over the next 12 months or so - to decide who foots these bills and what use the building will have.
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"The responsibility for a listed building lies with the owner," Mr Sharp said. "In this case, we believe we own the freehold in trust for the people of Huntingdon."
But a 999-year lease on the building, signed in the 1840s, passed to HM Courts Service in April 2005.
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The town hall has serious form as a courthouse, having also been home to Huntingdonshire Assizes, which were replaced by the Crown Court in the late 1960s. So, when the building is empty, English Heritage is almost certain to insist that at least one of the two ground-floor courts is retained for posterity and even enhanced.
This could limit its attractiveness to a commercial tenant.
Once the Courts Service is gone, HDC will want some income from the building to offset the maintenance costs. But so far, there is no sign of a serious bid.