A project to restore the exterior of a Grade II listed Cambrian Railway Building in Oswestry is to be considered for approval next at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 17 January by the building's owners, Shropshire Council.
It is estimated that it will cost £900,000 to restore the building, and £630,550, 70% of the total, has been secured from a bid to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). To proceed, this grant requires that 30% match funding should be made available from the council's capital programme.
If the Cabinet agrees to provide the match funding, the work will be put out to tender with the requirement that to comply with the grant terms the external restoration should be completed before March 2025.
Shropshire Council took possession of the building early last year after many years of neglect and storm damage that it suffered in 2022 when some corbels became loose. As a safety precaution, scaffolding was installed around the building to prevent any corbels or pieces of masonry from falling onto pedestrians or visitors.
To help secure a viable long-term use for the building, Shropshire Council has been working with Cambrian Heritage Railways, Oswestry Town Council, the Future Oswestry Group and conservation experts to agree on a programme of repairs for the building.
During an inspection by the council's conservation team and building surveyors, they identified that the original slates from the roof had been removed at some time in the past 40 years, and been replaced with tiles made from a ceramic composite containing asbestos. These tiles have become weathered, resulting in the asbestos fibres being exposed and requiring their replacement.
After completion of exterior repairs, the council will need to carry out the internal work needed to bring the building fully back into a suitable end-use.
Funding for more detailed building surveys and the commissioning of a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) has been secured. These surveys and the CMP will be undertaken at the same time as the essential external works before a recommended end-use(s) and the business case returns to Cabinet in the second half of this year.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for housing and assets, said: “Shropshire Council took possession of the Cambrian Heritage Railways building earlier last year to help secure a viable long-term use for what is a very important historic building for Oswestry.
“It is now imperative that the exterior of the building undergoes a restoration to replace the corroded roof tiles and restore and secure the corbels.
“This together with repainting of the building and repairs of the guttering, soffits and drain pipes is an essential first step to removing the scaffolding and making the building safe to enable it to be re-used and support the regeneration of this part of Oswestry.
“This grant funding offer is a significant opportunity for the council to realise one of our capital proprieties and I hope that Cabinet will agree to proceed with the project and assign the match funding.”