Baldock Town Hall in need of 'major' repairs

CAMPAIGNERS battling to bring a town hall back into use have been told by surveyors that the building has “major signs where there is need of repair”.

Baldock Town Hall Ltd – a group made up of a number of the town’s organisations, including the Baldock Town and District Partnership and The Baldock Society – has been given until March next year by North Herts District Council (NHDC) to come up with a viable business case for the building.

The group wants to use it for arts groups, as well as for education and training purposes. There is also discussion with Baldock Museum about housing some boxed exhibitions.

If the business case fails, the council could opt to sell it.

The town hall has stood empty since 2009 and costs NHDC �1,500 a year in building maintenance.

Baldock Town Hall Ltd commissioned estate management solutions company Stanburys Ltd, based in the town, to undertake a condition and photographic survey of the building.

Alison Gentle, a director of Stanburys and a member of Baldock Town Hall Ltd, said: “We have got to have a sound business plan, which is what we are working on, and we needed to know the current state of the building.

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“The survey did throw up that it is in need of quite a lot of repair and maintenance to get it into a usable condition.

“There are some major signs where there is need of repair.”

She said that the ceiling has collapsed in an area of the basement, there is rising damp, rotten window sills, the downpipes outside are overflowing, and the floor in the main hall has lifted.

She also said the basement has been used as “a dumping ground” and the building is not in “brilliant decorative order”.

But Ms Gentle added that, with ventilation and airflow, a lot of the problems could be easily remedied.

“It really hasn’t had an awful lot of attention and if it’s left it’s only going to get worse,” she said.

“There are some immediate repairs that could stop further damage occurring.”

Chris Gomm, chairman of Baldock Town Hall Ltd, said: “The next stage is to quantify the main issues arising from the survey and to get some basic maintenance carried out to prevent further deterioration.

“The floors have recently been raised to allow works to wet and dry rot to be undertaken and we are keen to make sure the causes are eliminated to prevent this reoccurring.

“We are now working hard on our business case as we would like to start detailed dialogue with NHDC as soon as possible.”

Liz Green, NHDC’s head of policy and community services, said: “We are delighted to see that the project for this community asset is progressing well and look forward to seeing more of the detail in the business plan from the group by early 2012.”