Work set to begin on St Albans’ Town Hall Chambers

The Herts Advertiser offices covered in scaffolding

The Herts Advertiser offices covered in scaffolding - Credit: Archant

Work to restore the Grade II listed building currently occupied by the Herts Advertiser is set to begin in the New Year.

Town Hall Chambers, at 35 Market Place, is currently covered in scaffolding and a weather-protective covering after an inspection revealed some movement on the frontage following a period of high winds last December.

The building is owned by the district council and any work requires listed building consent from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The council is currently waiting for approval before the work can be put out to tender, at which time the full cost of the project will be established.

The council says it is making every effort to minimise disruption to the businesses that use the building. The three ground floor retail properties – Sweaty Betty, Little Marrakech restaurant and The Fone Shop – will be able to continue trading throughout the work.

Discussions are underway with the St Albans School of Languages, which occupies the rooms to the rear of the first floor, to ensure it can remain operating from the building while the work is taking place.

But because the first floor rooms to the front of Town Hall Chambers will need to be vacated while the work is being carried out the council will be providing the Herts Advertiser with alternative accommodation in French Row.

The project, which is being completely funded by the council, has been scheduled to avoid any unnecessary impact on the shops and market in the run-up to Christmas. It is expected to last approximately 18 weeks, but this timescale could be affected if the contractor discovers the need for further work once they start on site.

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A council spokesperson explained: “Two parking bays in front of the building will be set aside for use by the contractor to allow for a delivery ‘set-down’ area which will be secured by a site hoarding. This hoarding area will contain the ladder and provide space for building materials to be transferred to the upper floor working areas.

“The extent of the hoarding has to be discussed with the appointed contractor in line with health and safety requirements, but there will be some screening to the shop frontage at the north end of the building and also to the entrance to the upper floor. Horizontal solid hoarding will be necessary to link with the existing scaffold above the footpath. The market will still be able to operate around the hoarding area.

“Building materials will be delivered via the scaffold to the front of the building but the stairs may be required at limited times for some delivery items. A water supply will be required for the masonry work.”

Full details on the Herts Advertiser’s move to French Row will be published in due course.