Hitchin Town Hall group seeks £1 million payment over ‘contract breach’

Hitchin Town Hall

Hitchin Town Hall - Credit: Archant

The group formed to oversee the project to renovate Hitchin Town Hall (HTH) has accused North Herts District Council of a material breach of their agreement – and are seeking £1 million from them to take legal ownership of the site on Brand Street.

The figure includes £440,000 as a ‘contractual obligation’ relating to the Brand Street landmark, and more than £550,000 for building work.

The restoration work carried out on the Grade II listed building raised concerns following pipework being installed in the ceiling of the foyer without approval from English Heritage.

“HTH is demanding the payment and chairman Stephen Pike, said: “It is a great shame the project has fallen far short of the original vision.

“Council officers resisted our attempts to save the stage. With the benefit of hindsight we should never have agreed to the construction of a ‘removable stud wall’ across the stage.

“A concrete wall, with heavy metal machinery and plant, together with a huge amount of pipe work for the facility has been constructed.

“There is no absolutely no possibility of so-called reversibility and, as a result, we lost the stage forever.

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“We had no consultation, and it was constructed without our agreement. In our view this constitutes a material breach.

“We’ve had no alternative but to serve notice of termination of the development agreement, and have exercised the contractual obligation to require North Herts District Council to pay us £440,000 to take legal ownership of the site.

“We’re hugely frustrated. The council is seriously at risk of an additional cost of £1,000,000. From a taxpayer’s point of view, it’s lamentable.”

Council leader Councillor Lynda Needham said: “The council firmly refutes a number of claims that have been made in connection with the development agreement.”