THE owner of a landmark building has welcomed the promise of Government investment.
Staffordshire County Council was responding to news of a successful bid on its behalf by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Board for £1.6 million from Government’s Getting Building Fund towards the redevelopment of the Grade II*-listed Shire Hall in the centre of Stafford.
A review of Shire Hall carried out by architectural regeneration specialists suggested a mixed use approach, including a high-quality event and exhibition area at the front, small business start-up space in the former library area and a restaurant, bar or café in the vaults.
Philip White, Deputy Leader of Staffordshire County Council and cabinet member for Economy and Skills, said: "The overall estimated cost of the project is around £7 million, so this announcement is a welcome first step towards our goal of a vibrant building with a viable long-term future that also projects the heritage of our county town.
"We have been working for some time with partners such as the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Stafford Borough Council to find possible future sources of funding for the phases of the project, so we are very pleased this bid has been so well received by the Government.”
Once the final approvals have been put in place the money will be used to create a high quality space for start-up businesses at the back of the building – the part not covered by the Grade II* listing.
The intention is to provide excellent shared facilities and services and also support them with access to information and expertise to develop their fledgling businesses.
Coun White added: "The Shire Hall is a landmark building in the heart of Stafford and the county council is committed to maintaining and preserving it for future generations.
"At a time when town centres everywhere are looking to make best use of their properties, the idea of using Shire Hall flexibly for a variety of purposes makes sense and Staffordshire’s reputation for delivering its infrastructure projects means central government can be confident that money invested here will be used effectively.”
Work on other parts of Shire Hall will follow when further funding is secured. The building is regularly inspected, maintained and heated. It remains in occasional use hosting events such as IRONMAN, art and architecture exhibitions and court re-enactments.