New future for historic Sowerby Bridge building as it undergoes transformation

An exciting new venture will bring an unused historic building in Sowerby Bridge back to life, as work gets underway on its transformation.

By Ian Hirst
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 10:34 am

The stunning, Grade II listed ‘old Town Hall’ building on Town Hall Street will be revitalised, after standing empty for several years following the closure of the bank that was previously located there.

The project is thanks to a partnership between 22 The Square, Calderdale Council and Historic England

Work has started on the redevelopment, following listed building consent to change its use. Visitors to Sowerby Bridge will see scaffolding currently in place as repairs to the roof begin.

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Raj Panesar inside the ‘old Town Hall’ building in Sowerby Bridge

Raj Panesar, owner of the ‘old Town Hall’ building and 22 The Square, which also has a restaurant in Northowram, said: “22 The Square are very excited about the new development in Sowerby Bridge. We fell in love with the building when we purchased it three years ago, with its amazing architecture, the beautiful spiral staircase and especially the clocktower.

“It will be lovely to hear the clock chiming every hour. We have talked to local residents and it is their wish to develop and bring life back into this wonderful building, built in 1853.

“Our intentions are to develop a restaurant and bar that can be used by people throughout the Yorkshire region so they can also take in the heritage of what this building means to the people of Sowerby Bridge and the wonderful fresh food we will be providing.

“The regeneration that Calderdale Council and Historic England are currently undertaking will turn Sowerby Bridge around, bringing back the hustle and bustle the town needs.”

The project will help to boost Sowerby Bridge high street as part of the Government’s £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme, led by Historic England and designed to secure lasting improvements to historic high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and breathing new life into them for future generations.

This programme is also seeing further regeneration in Sowerby Bridge, including the ongoing redevelopment of the Fire & Water building into a community hub, after Calderdale Council secured a £2 million grant from the Government.

A share of this funding is supporting the owner of the ‘old Town Hall’ building, 22 The Square, to carry out external repairs to ensure the building is watertight and internal repairs to enable the property to be brought back into use. This work will include repairs to the tower and its iconic clock.

Coun Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategy, said: “Preserving and making the most of our distinctive local heritage and supporting towns to thrive are priorities for the Council. The beautiful ‘old Town Hall’ building is a key historic feature in Sowerby Bridge, and we are delighted to be working with 22 The Square and Historic England to give it a new life that will make an impact on the high street, the economy and the community.

“The decision by 22 The Square to expand its business within Calderdale shows great ambition and confidence in the future of the area. We are pleased to support them as part of our work to help local talent and enterprise to thrive, to recover from the pandemic and bring increased variety to town centres for local people and visitors.”

Sowerby Bridge High Street Heritage Action Zone is a partnership between Historic England and Calderdale Council, together with Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water to revitalise our high street through heritage, culture and community.

Craig Broadwith, from Historic England, said: “It’s exciting to see the scaffolding going up and work starting on the regeneration of this wonderful, historic building. This is an such an important step towards reinvigorating the area and unlocking its full potential, helping to create an attractive and thriving town centre.”

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