Town’s oldest building saved from possible collapse

The Counting House is the oldest building in Pontefract.
The Counting House is the oldest building in Pontefract.

Wakefield Council has welcomed a decision by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, which supports the action it took to protect Pontefract’s medieval Counting House from collapse.

The Grade II-listed building in the town’s Market Place Conservation Area, which is in private ownership, had fallen into severe disrepair.

The council inspected the building after concerns were raised by English Heritage and a local conservation group in 2014.

A report concluded that urgent work was needed to temporarily stabilise the building and to make it weather tight.

Discussions were held with the building’s owner, requesting he carry out the work.

But following unsuccessful negotiations, the council issued legal notices to carry out essential works, which it then undertook to protect the historic building.

The council has been seeking to recoup the cost of the work from the building’s owner, and had sought support from Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The owner had appealed against the legal notices. But Ms Bradley has dismissed the appeal.

Welcoming the decision Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and skills at Wakefield Council, said: “The council fully supports the Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss this appeal and to back the council’s approach to safeguarding this building from collapse.

“Most importantly, the building is now stabilised. We now look forward to working with the owner to secure a scheme of permanent repairs which are essential for the long term preservation of this nationally and locally important building.”