Almost half a million to get Glossop Town Hall clock running and almost £10 million for repairs to the complex

It will cost £440,000 to remove asbestos and repair the clock tower at Glossop's crumbing Town Hall according to a HPBC report from 2013. The town hall has been closed since 2010, but continued to function as a timepiece for the town until October 2013, when HPBC issued a press release stating that the discovery of asbestos in the roof meant that the clock (and the flag pole) was out of action and would be "returned to service as soon as it’s safe to do so".  In fact they had known about the asbestos since at least February 2013 but had continued to try to keep the clock running throughout the summer.

 Glossop Town Hall was closed in 2010 after decades of neglect and underuse. In 2004 the council received no replies to a public consultation about the building, and estimated that it would cost £450,000 over five years to maintain it. That money was not spent and ten years later the figure is ten times higher. A 2013 estimate for making all essential repairs to the building was estimated at £3.3 million plus £750,000  for additional refurbishments. The figure for Glossop Market Hall was even higher, at £4.5 million. In contrast the costs for repairs to the Municipal Buildings were estimated at just £0.9 million. Since April 2001 HPBC have spent over £1.1 million maintaining the Municipal Buildings, but virtually nothing on the Victoria, Town Hall and Market Halls.

In June 2012 HPBC announced  an "Open Halls" consultation"  to determine the future of Glossop's public buildings. Nine groups made expressions of interest to the council, with four of them expressing an interest in managing one or more of the buildings.  Derbyshire County Council did not participate in the consultation and by early in 2013 the relationship between Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Borough Council appeared completely dysfunctional. The Conservative controlled county council wanted to build a new library and pull out of Victoria Hall, and had asked HPBC for spaces in the Municipal Buildings to house staff displaced by the proposed demolition of the old St Lukes building. That plan failed when the meeting to approve the new library was cancelled because the weather made a site visit impossible. Shortly afterwards, in May 2013,  Labour won control of the county council and in October 2013 DCC announced ambitious plans to work in partnership with HPBC to transform Victoria Hall and Glossop Adult Education Centre into a multi-use community venue. The council hoped to secure a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to develop both buildings into a ‘one-stop learning hub’ to support residents in the Glossopdale area. At the time DCC had approximately £2 million earmarked to revamp Glossop Library. Meanwhile In April 2013 HPBC officers had recommended the creation of feasibility plans for asset transfer possibilities for all or some of the other public  buildings to the Glossopdale Development Trust.

In July 2014 HPBC released two press releases relevant to Glossop's public buildings. The first entitled "Councils pledge partnership to drive growth and prosperity" stated that DCC and HPBC had signed a concordat with key priorities that included "Investing in the library at Victoria Hall in Glossop and planning for the transfer of the Town Hall, Market Hall and Municipal Buildings to the community". The second, released five days later  said that both councils had agreed to work in partnership with a local social enterprise and that "A strategy for the renovation of Glossop Town Hall, the Market Hall and the Municipal Buildings, which are owned by the Borough Council, and Victoria Hall which is held in trust, is being developed jointly by High Peak Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council".

Glossopdale Trust, a private limited company, originally registered an interest only in the Town Hall and Market Hall. Their plans for the buildings remain uncertain, with original plan for a set of artists' workspaces in the town hal replaced in January 2013 by a vision to "develop the town hall into a multi use performance space that could be used to host everything for rock gigs, to choral and classical concerts, drama and literary performances" and to integrate the Market and Town Halls and Municipal Buildings into a single complex. In July 2014 the vision was restated as  “to exploit the commercial opportunities presented by the Municipal Buildings and to work with the current occupants in the market to create a vibrant retail destination, integrating arts and crafts into an expanded high quality market, owned and run by the traders. We can then utilise the economic benefits realised by this plan to support the less commercially orientated community aspects of the complex. The final part of the plan is to develop the currently derelict Town Hall into a modern, inviting community space that can be used for a wide variety of activities including music and drama performances, exhibitions, weddings, parties and other community events.”

Local county councillors have not responded to questions about their previous plan Victoria Hall and Glossop Adult Education Centre. No estimates for the cost of the Victoria Hall renovations is available. For the three other buildings the total repair estimate is currently £9,475,000, with a waning that costs will escalate if repairs are delayed. In 2013 HPBC had £2,452,15 available, leaving a funding gap of just over £7 million. Speculation exists that the approximately £2 million that DCC had earmarked for Glossop Library might be added to this fund. With less than nine months before the borough council elections the councils will have to move quickly if they want to be rid of Glossop's public buildings once and for all.

 

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