A CLEAR sign has emerged that Calderdale Council’s HQ, Northgate House, is just about at the end of its useful life – less than 30 years after it was opened.
Its two main lifts have been taken sealed off for safety reasons and hundreds of staff and visitors now have to climb as many as 10 flights of stairs. Offices have had to be reorganised and there is a question mark over whether the Halifax building complies on disabled access.
Councillors were warned last year that the lifts and controls needed to be completely renewed.
They have suffered breakdowns and small fires in the control gear.”
Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat leader Janet Battye said the lifts would be repaired in a way toensure they can be used safely.
She said: “We should know in a couple of weeks the timetable for deciding the long-term future of the building, which will be agreed well before Christmas.”
The latest breakdown throws into focus a structural survey in February that showed that it would cost £15 million to fully restore Northgate House, temporarily rehouse staff and cover professional fees.
Council leaders have spent two years considering whether it might be better to demolish the landmark building next to Halifax bus station to make way for new shops.
For it is not just the lifts that are letting the building down.
The survey showed the fire alarm system “was old, dated and not compliant.”
The roof and windows need replacing, the mechanical and electrical installations are “at the end of their serviceable life.”
Boilers and lighting are in a very poor condition and emergency lighting is in danger of becoming obsolete, according to the survey.
A council spokesman said of the recent lift closure: “The lifts serving the main reception area have suffered several breakdowns in recent months.
“A specialist engineering report on the condition of the lifts has now been received and the two lifts have been taken out of service with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors.”
The council has introduced new desk-sharing arrangements on the ground floor for staff with access difficulties.
Councillors have spent years trying to decide what to do with the building since the first major structural survey in 2005.
Apart from the costs involved, a lot depends on the council’s administrative requirements, which keeping changing.
Latest estimates for a facelift include £305,000 for stripping out the building, £543,000 for new partitions, £225,000 for doors, £300,000 for floors, £287,000 for ceilings and £119,000 for redecorating.
About £626,000 would be needed for fittings, £2.3 million for service installations, £1 million for the facades, £263,000 for the roof, £134,000 for structural work and £500,000 for external work.
Site management would add another £875,000 and design consultancy £500,000.