COUNCIL bosses have applied for planning consent to start a controversial project to replace Wigan Town Hall’s terracotta tiles.
The restoration work – which is separate to the main town hall redevelopment - was revealed by the Evening Post in June.
I understand the need for maintenance work, which is important, but do we have to spend so much and so quickly?Coun James Grundy
Its £1.8m price tag had raised many an eyebrow among opposition members given the council’s cash-strapped status.
Council officers have had to apply for planning permission due to the town hall’s Grade II listed building status.
Planning documents from architect firm Kevin Doonan state: “Once the building was scaffolded and closer inspection made, it has become apparent that further repairs to external terracotta and brickwork are required to ensure the building is properly and adequately maintained.”
They go on to say: “Following the repair works such as the special character of the building, its grand ornate decorative brick and terracotta facade ... is unlikely to be affected by these repairs due to their limited scale and sympathetic nature.”
Paul McKevitt, the council’s deputy chief executive, had said he is hopeful the work will not cost as much as the initial quote of almost £2m.
And the council revealed the money is coming from a different budget from the refurbishment works – which will save residents £1m a year when completed.
Although the cost attracted criticism from opposition leader Coun James Grundy who said: “We are in the middle of a major £6m refurbishment of the town hall and now this.
“People will see this decision and react with bafflement.
“I understand the need for maintenance work, which is important, but do we have to spend so much and so quickly?”
Mr McKevitt said: “In its previous state the town hall was unfit for purpose and was riddled with structural issues with some areas of the building cordoned off for health and safety reasons.
“The council opted to invest in a complete update to the building that will ultimately save taxpayers money.
“Thanks to our investment the town hall is near to being completely transformed into modern energy efficient offices and will be the workplace of 600 employees which will help boost the town centre economy.”