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Future plans for jewel in the town.

Byline: Sandy Mckenzie

The future use of Middlesbrough's architectural jewel is being considered by council chiefs.

Acklam Hall - the borough's only Grade 1 listed building - is likely to be sold off along with land surrounding it.

Middlesbrough Council and Middlesbrough College are set to work in partnership in the sell-off which will have achieving a new use for the hall and the site as a key aim. A preferred developer could be chosen within a year.

The hall is owned by Middlesbrough College. The college is moving out of the hall and its three other sites in the town to a new pounds 70m college building now under construction on the Middlehaven site. Middlesbrough Council owns parts of the site.

Tomorrow Dave Budd, Middlesbrough Council's Executive councillor for regeneration, is expected to approve steps to be taken to sell off the hall and site.

Cllr Budd said: "In many senses Acklam Hall is Middlesbrough's best building and we think we have found a way forward to ensure it is preserved and that most importantly we find a suitable future use.

"It is in the interests of Middlesbrough that the college and the council works together on this."

Cllr Budd is being asked tomorrow to approve the principles of an Acklam Hall Conservation plan to guide the future development and use of the site, the preparation of a development brief, and a joint marketing exercise with Middlesbrough College to sell their interests in the site.

Tim White, the council's regeneration director, says in the report being considered by Cllr Budd that the comprehensive approach proposed for the future development and management of the heritage site "puts the conservation requirements and retention and improvement of the hall at the heart of future proposals".

Alternative future uses for the hall could be offices, leisure, hotel and residential.

Mr White says the hall is in reasonable condition but the building will require work to prevent deterioration to its fabric. An inspection two years ago indicated work costing pounds 1.3m would be required but a more detailed survey could mean the scope of the works and the skill level of workmanship required could push up the costs involved.

Recommendations in the conservation plan include:

* Acklam Hall, owned by Middlesbrough College - it is of the highest significance and must be retained and restored to the highest standards with an appropriate alternative use. There could be some opportunity for redevelopment of rear sections of the building.

* Former art block, owned by Middlesbrough College - the buildings are of moderate significance and preferably should be retained but could be selectively or partially redeveloped.

* Eastern courtyard, owned by Middlesbrough Council - the buildings are of moderate significance and could be retained and converted or redeveloped for new uses.

* Sports hall, owned by Middlesbrough Council - the buildings are detrimental to the appearance and significance of the site and should be demolished and redeveloped.

* Walled garden, owned by Middlesbrough Council - the walls are of high significance. They must be retained.

* Teaching block, owned by Middlesbrough College - the 1960s block is considered to be detrimental to the appearance and significance of the site and to the vistas of the main hall. Its complete removal should be an aspiration.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2007
Words:535
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