Taxpayers could face £12m bill for Piece Hall as bill rises to £19m

Latest image (23-01-12) of what the Piece Hall may look like if the HLF bid is successful.
Latest image (23-01-12) of what the Piece Hall may look like if the HLF bid is successful.
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THE POTENTIAL cost to the taxpayer of the Piece Hall redevelopment project has rocketed from £2.2million to as much as £12million.

The extent of the rise in the council’s contribution is revealed in a report set to be presented to cabinet next week.

These show that the existing £2.2 million contribution will remain with a further £4.8 million being obtained from council capital reserves.

£4.8 million worth of prudential borrowing, from the Public Works Board, will supplement a £7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to meet the total development cost, which has risen from £16 million to £19 million.

The HLF grant application will be submitted in March with a decision on whether it has been successful coming in July.

Robin Tuddenham, director of communities, who is leading the project, described the figures as a “worst case scenario” and is hopeful the council can obtain £1.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the same amount again in private fundraising.

If the council manages to obtain the £3 million this would still leave the total contribution from taxpayers’ money of £4 million plus the £4.8 million borrowings.

Mr Tuddenham said that this would leave the council paying back £360,000 per annum compared to £135,000 per annum if the funding is obtained.

He said: “Usual repayment is over a 25-year period. The business plan includes inflation and contingency as well as costings for a 10-year maintenance plan to ensure the building is kept up to spec, which will be renewed from then.

“Piece Hall is the second most important building in Yorkshire after York Minster.”

The report that will be shown to councillors at cabinet on Monday, January 30, contains details of what will actually be in the Piece Hall if the bid is successful.

This includes 21 retail units, 19 office units, a restaurant, cafe and resurfaced central courtyard.

If approved, as per the recommendation, it will then be put before full council on February 15.

Roger Harvey welcomed the new information and accepted that cost should be no object for the Piece Hall.

“It is seriously important,” he said. “The Piece Hall must be one of the most in Yorkshire.

“Commercially it is a sensible investment because the returns for everybody in Calderdale will be huge.”

Should the bid succeed the renovations are scheduled to get underway in July 2013 with completion pencilled in for January 2015.

A Piece Hall trust will be set up to manage the running of the building on a 125-year lease from the council.

Calderdale Council’s leader, Coun Janet Battye, said: “We have been working hard for the last two years on our plans to develop the Piece Hall.

“It’s really exciting to see how the Piece Hall could look, ready for our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in March.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Calderdale and I can’t wait to see the finished Piece Hall.”