Manchester City Council to meet over £330m refurb plans to save historic Town Hall from closure

Proposals for a £330million refurbishment to save Manchester Town Hall from closure are set to come under fire by senior city councillors.

The Council’s Executive will meet to discuss the scheme, which will see improvement works throughout the hall and the surrounding Albert Square, on Wednesday, March 8.

The 140-year-old Grade I listed neo-gothic building is in danger of reaching its natural life span and ‘mothballing’ if the refurb is unable go to ahead.

A report on the iconic building was published last July, stating that if the £328.3million repairs were unable to proceed, it was likely that the hall would close.

Speaking about the project, deputy council leader, Bernard Priest, said: “Getting to this point has involved a long and meticulous process.

“But as a result of the rigorous work done we are confident that we have a scheme which will deliver real and enduring benefits for Manchester.

“Not only will it safeguard this much-loved masterpiece for current and future Mancunians, it will also improve public access to our Town Hall and its treasures and support the city’s economy by giving the building an enhanced role as a visitor destination – and even potentially a place for emerging business.”

During the meeting, the Executive will also be asked to support recommendations on how the newly renovated hall should be used.

These include a small boutique hotel in part of the building, office space and food and drink retail.

Work had previously been done investigating whether a 65-bed hotel could be brought into the space, however this was deemed unfeasible due to its £30million price tag.

Cllr Priest added: “Allowing this iconic building to slide into decay and disuse is not an option.

“We are confident that we have struck the right balance in these plans between introducing some commercial elements which will help generate income to support services and preserving the Town Hall’s essential character.”

Manchester Town Hall currently has an annual maintenance check, but this will be the first major renovation programme in the building’s history.

Images courtesy of mattwi1s0n, via Flickr, with thanks.

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