Council HQ gets one new lift but future is uncertain

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AFTER a three-month wait, one of the two public lifts in Calderdale Council’s administrative HQ has finally been repaired.

But the other lift is likely to remain mothballed until councillors decide if Northgate House should be restored or demolished.

After the lifts were condemned at the beginning of June, the Courier reported how staff and visitors had to walk up 10 flights of stairs to reach the top floor offices.

The lifts suffered regular breakdowns and small fires in the control gear, according to an engineers report.

Councillors have been reviewing detailed structural surveys about Northgate House since 2005, the latest of which showed in February that it would cost up to £15.5 million to fully restore the 30-year-old building, temporarily rehouse staff and cover professional fees.

And the costs are rising. The council’s head of regeneration David Moore will tell the economy and environment panel: “The updated costs for the refurbishment assumed a start on site in the third quarter of 2011 but recent legislation has changed and there are likely to be higher costs in relation to the energy conservation and low carbon issues.”

The company behind the Broad Street Plaza development has put in a controversial proposal to build a Primark on the site of the Northgate block and the nearby library.

But councillors say they need more time to weigh up the options for both buildings.

“This work links into the asset management strategy which is expected to commence in September and be concluded by the end of 2011,” said Mr Moore.

The main issues affecting Northgate House, apart from whether the council need so much office space, are fire risks, emergency lighting, the state of windows, repointing, rooflights, air conditioning and lifts.

Mr Moore will tell the panel that the library faces similar structural problems and the need to remove and refix the top four courses of stone cladding.

An area along the side of the building has been fenced off for years pending permanent repairs.

l Council officers are “exploring funding possibilities” for restoring Halifax market.

“The scheme is being included in the council’s investment plan with the Housing and Communities Agency,” said Mr Moore.