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Local group welcome council legal action over city centre listed building

Alexandra Hall in Lancaster

A local charity has welcomed Lancaster City Council’s taking of legal action to protect a listed building in the heart of the city centre.

Lancaster Civic Vision raised concerns about the condition of the Grade II listed Alexandra Hall building at the top of Penny Street, which they say is being neglected.

Following a meeting with council officials, it was confirmed legal action to address the concerns was taking place and the owners had been served notice to make the building weatherproof.

In addition, the group say talks are ongoing with the owners of Oddfellows’ Hall on Brock Street, regarding improving the condition of the building and exploring potential future re-use.

David Morgan, vice-chair of Lancaster Civic Vision, said: ‘’(Last month) representatives of Lancaster Civic Vision met with the leader of the city council, the chief executive, the head of planning and a number of cabinet members to discuss our concerns.

‘’We were delighted to learn that the city council were already in the process of initiating legal action to address the concerns raised.

‘’We have now been advised by the council that an Urgent Works Notice under the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990 has been served upon the owners of the Alexandra Hall building. 

‘’This is an important listed building on Penny Street, which has had all upper window frames removed and stands open to all weathers, with the danger of the fabric of the building deteriorating.

‘’The notice prescribes temporary measures to make the building weathertight to prevent any further deterioration. 

‘’The notice has a very short timescale for compliance and, should the owner not carry out the required work, the local authority can choose to undertake the works and charge the cost of the works to the owner.

‘’With regard to Oddfellows’ Hall on Brock Street, city council officers were in contact with the owners and productive discussions are ongoing regarding improving the condition of the building and exploring potential future re-use, subject to planning permission being granted.’’

A Lancaster City Council spokesperson confirmed that it has "served an Urgent Works Notice in respect of Alexandra Hall that requires the owners to take specific steps to make the building watertight" and "the council will provide further updates in due course".

Located at 107 Penny Street, the Alexandra Hall building was built in 1902 as the Alexandra Hotel, and was most recently home to a Revolution bar, which closed in 2014, and prior to that, The Alex pub and nightspot, and The Catholic Social Club.

In 2021, a listed building planning application went in for a major renovation of the building, including external repairs to the roof, windows, doors, guttering and masonry, alterations to layout including the removal of an existing staircase, removal of existing and installation of new internal door and walls, repairs to walls, ceilings, flooring and insulation, and installation of new plumbing, electrics, sound proofing and plastering.

There was also a 'change of use' application for a ground floor "drinking establishment" and first and second floor hotel.

Lancaster City Council refused the applications, saying the proposals contained "insufficient information to enable proper consideration of the impact of proposed works on the character, appearance, fabric and setting of the listed building and Conservation Area".

Amended plans have since been submitted and are pending a decision from the council.

In October, a Lancaster City Council spokesperson said: "The current condition of the buildings is unacceptable and they are the subject of active enforcement investigations. 

"If the property owners fail to tidy the condition of the buildings then the ultimate sanction, through the Crown Courts, could be unlimited fines. 

"We would urge local property owners to discharge their obligations to maintain their buildings in an appropriate manner."

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