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Monday, April 22, 2024

£3 Million allocated to rescue Old Bailey from ‘Advanced State of Decay’: City of London’s battle against historic maintenance backlog

The condition of the building was raised during a Court of Common Council meeting earlier this year, when Alderman Timothy Hailes described the stonework as in an “advanced state of decay”

Almost £3 million has been earmarked to tackle a backlog of ‘decorative and building improvement works’ at the Old Bailey, as part of wider City of London efforts to address historic issues across its estate. The condition of the building was raised during a Court of Common Council meeting earlier this year, when Alderman Timothy Hailes described the stonework as being in an “advanced state of decay”.

Timothy Hailes Image: Wikipedia

He also noted the ‘not insignificant’ maintenance backlog for structures across the City, which includes many of the capital’s most famous landmarks. This was evidenced in December last year when a piece of debris fell from the Old Bailey’s Ceremonial Gates, with a pedestrian later hospitalised after tripping over the masonry.

City Surveyors had detailed in a report first published last year that the cost of required works to the Corporation’s estate totalled £130.9m, of which £55.1m consists of the backlog, and £75.8m for further improvements planned over the next few years.

During the same Court of Common Council meeting, on 11 January, Deputy Christopher Michael Hayward, Chair of the Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee, acknowledged the City’s buildings had been impacted by ‘decades’ of underinvestment.

On the Old Bailey specifically, he said “it is an operational asset that has suffered from a long-term maintenance backlog”.

“The level of funding it has received historically from cyclical maintenance isn’t in my view commensurate with a facility of this size, complexity and intensive use,” he added.

Deputy Christopher Michael Hayward Image: Wikipedia

In the report in which the estimated costs of the works were detailed, officers had warned: “By not addressing the backlog of cyclical maintenance works that has accumulated over several years, the required Backlog (bow wave) will grow exponentially. We will shortly reach a point whereby it will start to affect statutory compliance items and or cause greater degradation of property.”

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the Corporation has now also revealed further details of the backlog, and a breakdown of where funding has been recommended to be allocated.

The largest item listed is the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, to which £3,613,000 is earmarked. However, the building which is proposed to receive the most money is the £2,920,000 to the Old Bailey, the majority of which is to be spent on its North Building (£1m) and South Wing (£1.03m).

Walbrook Wharf, which is opposite Cannon Street, meanwhile is noted as requiring £1,556,500, while Charterhouse Street Bridge is down for £1,225,000. The Mayor’s and City of London Court (£872,500) and London Metropolitan Archive (£765,000) are also among those recommended to receive sizable sums.

A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “The works referenced, which are various decorative and building improvement works, are in addition to general and routine maintenance, which already takes place on a regular basis.

“How these works are to be funded is still to be decided by future committees but we expect them to be completed within one to five years.”

The final approval for the investment to tackle the backlog, which is included as part of the Corporation’s annual budget-setting process, will be granted at the Court of Common Council meeting in March.

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