‘The Sistine Chapel didn’t take this long’: Frustration over delays to £2m restoration of Ossett Town Hall

Major refurbishment work at Ossett Town Hall will not be completed on time, Wakefield Council has confirmed.
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The local authority has apologised after a public meeting heard delays had been caused due to “ceilings and floors falling through” at the Grade II listed building.

The building, on Market Place, has been surrounded by scaffolding since August last year, when a £2m major refurbishment programme began.

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Restoration work is being carried out to the roof, clock tower and stonework.

A £2m refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024, Wakefield Council has confirmed.A £2m refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024, Wakefield Council has confirmed.
A £2m refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is not expected to be completed until summer 2024, Wakefield Council has confirmed.

The project also involves relocating the town’s library from the ground floor to the first floor and installing a new lift.

The work was due to be completed by the end of this year but is now expected to finish next summer.

Natalie Palmer, the council’s interim service director for property, said: “We share everyone’s frustration that the refurbishment of Ossett Town Hall is taking longer than expected and apologise for the disruption caused.

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“As the building is Grade II listed, 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

Ossett Town HallOssett Town Hall
Ossett Town Hall

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.

“We expect it to be completed by next summer.”

Earlier this month, local councillors told a police and communities together (PACT) meeting that they had been informed of the delays.

Conservative councillor Nick Farmer said: “The scaffolding is still there and I don’t know what the cost to Wakefield Council is going to be.

“It’s just going on, and on, and on.”

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“It is a typical example of what you get if you don’t look after something – and they haven’t – for the last 30, 40 or 50 years.”

A resident quipped: “I don’t think the Sistine Chapel took this long.”

Coun Farmer said: “It has taken longer to do this than Big Ben. They did the work on that faster.”

Labour councillor Olivia Rowley said delays had been caused by new planning applications having to be submitted to get the work completed.

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She said: “The windows were not complementary to the cement that was around them so it was going to erode them.

“Now they have found all the ceilings and floors have fallen through, so that was another planning application.”

After the meeting, Coun Rowley said in a social media message to residents: “I know a number of people are frustrated to see the town hall in Ossett continuously wrapped in bandages.

“Work started some time ago to renovate and upgrade it, then problems arose with materials being proposed for near the windows and work had to be delayed which planning permission was applied for.

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“Now the ceilings have got serious problems, which I suspect will take us well into next year.”

Coun Rowley added that she had “expressed my frustration and concern”.

She said Coun Michelle Collins, the council’s cabinet member for resources, has arranged a meeting with the contractor carrying out the work for the beginning of October.

Built in 1908, 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.