AN empty grade I-listed building is costing a cash-strapped town £86,000 a year to secure until it is sold to a developer.

Acklam Hall, in Middlesbrough,which was built in 1628, is expected to be restored and used as a conference centre with a health village and housing in its grounds.

However, as certain parts of the contract have had to be renegotiated and the developer has not yet met the necessary conservation and design standards required by English Heritage, a planning application has yet to be submitted.

The only grade I-listed building in the town, owned by Middlesbrough Council and Middlesbrough College, Acklam Hall has been vacant for three years.

Originally built by William Hustler as a family home, it has been in public ownership since 1935, occupied by Kings Manor School and then Middlesbrough College until students moved into a new campus in Middlehaven.

Mike Hopkins, principal of Middlesbrough College, said: “Of course the college regrets any spend that is not directly improving the student experience here at Middlesbrough College. However, we do recognise that as custodians of the only grade I-listed building in Middlesbrough, we also have an obligation to ensure this fantastic heritage is secured and maintained for the benefit of future generations.”

The co-owners of the Restoration mansion are jointly footing the bill for 24- hour security which was stepped up in January to manage risks to the site.

Out of Middlesbrough’s 23 council wards, 16 are deprived and five are ranked among the top one per cent in the country for social deprivation.

Middlesbrough Council is forced to slash £50m from its budget over four years resulting in the loss of services and hundreds of public sector jobs.

It is believed the Heritage Lottery Fund is questioning the six-month winter closure of Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, in Stewart Park, after it granted the attraction more than £800,000 to ensure visitor numbers are sustained while the park underwent a major revamp.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for regeneration and economic development, said: “Acklam Hall is a hugely important part of Middlesbrough’s heritage and we have undertaken all necessary measures to protect its future.”

Emma Boon, campaign director at the Taypayers’ Alliance said: “It’s right that this building should be protected from vandals so that its value isn’t degraded.

But taxpayers’ money has been wasted by not dealing with this empty building more quickly".