FURTHER COSTS: The Witham needs urgent repairs
FURTHER COSTS: The Witham needs urgent repairs

ONLY six years after it underwent a £3.2million renovation, a dale arts venue is “in need of urgent repair” to stop further damage.

The Witham, in Barnard Castle, reopened with huge fanfare in 2013 after undergoing renovation work to bring it into the 21st century.

As well as installing high-tech equipment, a partially glazed building was constructed to link the original dance halls together and the adjoining 1970s library was given a makeover.

But now a historic drainage system is failing, causing water damage to one of the first floor rooms and more money needs to be spent on the grade II-listed building to stop it deteriorating further.

Chairwoman of the trustee Shelagh Avery told members of Barnard Castle Town Council’s partnership meeting last week she will be meeting with Durham County Council to discuss the “urgent repairs”.

When The Witham was built a parapet drainage system was installed. This system has pipework hidden in the walls of the building, ensuring there are no unsightly rainwater downpipes on the facade.

However Ms Avery told councillors the system is failing and there are signs of “water ingress” to the right hand corner of The Witham room.

She added it is anticipated the work will be carried out during the summer when relatively few groups will be disrupted.

She said: “It is work that needs to be done in the summer because they will be using lime render. There are quite a few gigs in the autumn so we hope they use the time wisely to do the remedial work.” Chairman of the partnership committee Cllr Ian Kirkbride said he was disappointed with the news and said there was a problem long before the renovation work was carried out. He questioned why it had not been put right during the costly refurbishment.

Ms Avery said at the time of the renovations the conservation officer felt it was important to keep the system because the building was listed despite the fact this aspect is only visible to people carrying out maintenance work on the roof.