A dilapidated arts and culture venue with a rumoured repair bill of up to £1 million has been put on the market.

Stanley Civic Hall is up for sale after Durham County Council regained full control of the town center site earlier this year. 

Formerly known as the Lamplight Arts Centre, the building was handed back to the local authority after the town council admitted it wasn’t able to keep up with the venue’s rising maintenance and repair costs. An investigation found the heating system is broken and rooms have been declared out-of-bounds due to the holes in the roof and windows. 

Durham County Council confirmed it has listed the building for sale “as there are no future requirements for it within our operations.”

The Northern Echo: Stanley Civic HallStanley Civic Hall (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

The town council’s legacy of managing the site has been blamed on its deteriorating condition and earlier this year, the Joint Administration running Durham County Council - made up of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Indpenedent members - launched a scatching attack on the Labour-run Stanley Town Council for the state of the building. 

Local members were labelled “inept and incompetent” by those in power at County Hall and were told they had let the residents of Stanley down. 

Following further surveys of the building’s condition, cllr James Rowlandson warned the damage could be worse than first thought. The cabinet member told a full council meeting: “Because it has been left with no heating, no repairs to the roof and windows in the worst winter there has been for a number of years, the repair bill could reach £1 million to bring it back into proper use.”

Yet, the Labour Party accused the council of prioritising other projects over repairing existing cultural assets and worry the town could lose the venue after it is sold. 

Party leader cllr Carl Marshall said: “Having just managed to push through a budget designed to plough money into Durham City, here we have yet another example of the coalition ignoring the needs of the county’s forgotten towns and villages. 

“Stanley Town Council finally handed day to day management of the building back to the County Council after years of pleading for support with spiralling maintenance costs of the building and within weeks of returning the building the coalition has put the building up for sale with a short window of opportunity for potential buyers to express interest. 

“Once again, people in Stanley must go without while watching millions being ploughed into Durham City Centre, as its own cultural venue is flogged to the highest bidder.”

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However, the Joint Administration said its investment in the council’s cultural offering will benefit the whole of County Durham. 

“Durham County Council is having to sell Stanley Civic Hall precisely because of the neglect that it has been subjected to since the town council signed a lease for the building 13 years ago, along with full responsibility for its upkeep and any repairs,” said cllr Rowlandson. 

“All recent investments in the city of Durham were inherited by the Joint Administration, along with the challenges that came with them.”