RAAC and asbestos found at Peterborough Town Hall as councillors debate 90-year-old building's future

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Councillors have suggested turning part of the building into a museum or holding more weddings in the reception room

RAAC and asbestos were found at Peterborough Town Hall in a recent survey of the 90-year-old building.

The council has confirmed that “what appears to be RAAC”, or reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, was found on the second floor, while asbestos was identified at a “new location”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The NHS and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which lease the second floor, have been asked to vacate their usual rooms, the council says, while a more detailed survey is carried out to establish the works needed to make sure they’re safe.

Peterborough's Town HallPeterborough's Town Hall
Peterborough's Town Hall

RAAC, which was found in the walls and on the roof of the Town Hall, poses a potential danger because it’s susceptible to structural failure when it comes into contact with moisture or is covered with a heavier material.

Read More
MP urges council to think again over Werrington Fields

Asbestos, meanwhile, can cause health problems if it’s breathed in after being damaged or disturbed.

The council says that it was found behind “a small number of heater covers that protected non-operational heaters” in the mayor’s parlour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Mayor of Peterborough, Nick Sandford, in the mayor's parlourMayor of Peterborough, Nick Sandford, in the mayor's parlour
Mayor of Peterborough, Nick Sandford, in the mayor's parlour

While it “places no risk to the occupiers”, a plan is being developed to “remove or enclose it”, it adds.

Director of commercial partnerships, property and assets at Peterborough City Council (PCC), Simon Lewis, said that surveys of the building are ongoing which will determine the investment needed to bring the Town Hall up to standard.

While it will be three to four months before these surveys and subsequent analysis is complete, “I suspect that the end number is going to be somewhat large,” he said.

A museum or a wedding venue? Councillors debate Town Hall's future

Because of the problems at the Town Hall – which also include poor insulation, a basement prone to flooding and a lack of plug sockets – councillors have debated whether it’s worth keeping.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The more time you spend in this building, the more you realise what a dysfunctional building it actually is,” Peterborough’s mayor, Nick Sandford, said at a PCC meeting.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), he suggested that in the long term PCC could “turn the middle portion of the Town Hall into a museum and then transfer everything else over to Sand Martin House”.

“We’ve got a museum here that’s far too small for our needs,” he said. “There’s some bits of the Town Hall like the mayor’s parlour that’s almost like an art gallery. I think in the longer term that could be an option.”

Much of the council relocated to Sand Martin House in Fletton Quays in 2018, although council meetings still take place at the Town Hall.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cllr Steve Allen (Conservatives, Eye, Thorney and Newborough), said, though, that as a “traditionalist” he believes “we should save, maintain and improve this building”.

“This building has suffered from under-investment and it’s almost as if we’re neglecting it in the hope that we won’t use it for much longer and we can close it,” he said at a PCC meeting.

“We need to commercialise it and maximise the potential for weddings and functions and events in the reception room and, whilst we’re at it, improve the place we have to sit in.”

Speaking to the LDRS, council leader Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Peterborough First, Hargate and Hempsted) said that the “symbolic” Town Hall building is in “a good position”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We have rent coming in from DWP, we have rent coming in from the NHS and we have coroners who use it very frequently,” he said. “We’re also moving our housing team here to be nearer to our residents.”

PCC’s housing team is not able to access the second floor currently, however, where it may eventually be housed and as such has taken over the group rooms where the council’s different political parties used to hold meetings with each other.

Although surveys and other works are continuing, much of the Town Hall remains safe and accessible to the public, PCC says.

The council chamber, mayor’s parlour and reception are all open for business.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.