£10m Leeds Town Hall revamp: Costs spiral but work is ‘vital’

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Leeds’s iconic 160-year old Town Hall building is set for a revamp costing almost £10m - more than three times the original estimated bill.

The city council has submitted an application for Lottery heritage funding for half the cash, with the remaining bill to be footed by local taxpayers.

The result of the bid is imminent - and success would pave the way for the authority to start the search for an expert design team. Work could start as early as July this year.

The YEP revealed previously that council bosses were considering bidding for Lottery funding for a possible £3m makeover.

But now it has emerged the current estimated cost for the “essential repairs” is £9.56m. The authority insists the investment is sound - and will save public money in the long-term.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: “The Grade 1 listed Leeds Town Hall was voted the city’s favourite building by YEP readers in 2009 and hosts over 1,000 events throughout the year.

“However, like any significant building of its age, it inevitably requires an ongoing programme of repairs and improvements to secure the building for future generations.

“The council is now taking the opportunity to both protect the building and also open-up its heritage features, whilst making it more economically sustainable. “By providing more meeting spaces for hire and better catering facilities inside we will continue to reduce its reliance on public funds in the long term.

“The council will contribute a maximum £4.8m from its capital programme towards the total estimated project cost of £9.56m.

“We are looking to lever in the remaining money from sponsorship and fundraising. We have made an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which is currently being assessed and we hope to hear the result of our application shortly.

“The Town Hall is an iconic Leeds landmark and the work is essential so it can continue to provide a warm welcome to tens of thousands of visitors each year.”

The refurbishment works would include a brand new heritage trail around the Victorian cells, courtroom, Victoria Hall and clock tower, work to strengthen the roof, improved acoustics and a new bar.

An iconic piece of city’s history

Leeds Town Hall, completed in 1858, was once a municipal hub, hosting courts, the city’s police station and cells, register services and more. However nowadays it serves primarily as a concert and conference venue.

The decision to build Leeds Town Hall was made in 1851, at a meeting of the then Leeds Borough Council. An attempt was made to fund it by selling shares for £10 but the plan failed, A public competition to design the building was won by young Hull architect Cuthbert Brodrick. He won £200. For the next 108 years, Leeds Town Hall stood as the tallest building in Leeds.

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