Town hall restoration to be considered by council planners

Bright Hall proposals
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The restoration of Rochdale’s Grade I-listed town hall has taken a major step forward following the submission of a listed building and planning application to the council.

The application outlines vital repair work to the 149-year-old town hall, which is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the country.

Planners will consider the restoration of the building and many of its historic features, with a decision expected to be made later in the Summer.

As well as restoring the building, the project will open this heritage asset up to new audiences, both locally and nationally, and make it more accessible than before.

A first stage application to The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the project was approved in 2018, with the council being awarded funding to develop the plans in more detail. A decision on the second round application, to help fund the restoration, is set to be made in September.

Cllr Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, said: “Rochdale Town Hall has been described by Historic England as having historic features so important they’re rivalled only by the Palace of Westminster, so we’re incredibly lucky to have it in the heart of our borough.

“This restoration project, which has now taken another step forward, will not only preserve and enhance it for future generations, it will also open up this precious asset to allow more people to enjoy this wonderful space in the years to come.”

As well as crucial conservation work to protect the building, like replacing the electrical system, plans for the town hall include:

  • The restoration of its many historic internal features, like the Magna Carta mural and ceiling panels in the Great Hall, and the stained glass and wood panelling throughout the building
  • The creation of a permanent exhibition space in the committee rooms on the ground floor
  • The creation of a new community space called the Bright Hall on the second floor, which can be used for smaller weddings and functions and by community groups
  • New lifts and terracing to allow level access for all
  • Creation of new jobs and volunteer opportunities associated with the conservation work
  • Working with Falinge Park High School in Rochdale to deliver a new qualification for students called Design, Engineer, Construct, (DEC)
  • A programme of new activities and projects for families and visitors to enjoy

The restoration of the town hall is part of the ongoing £400m regeneration of Rochdale town centre, which includes the development of the new shopping and leisure development, Rochdale Riverside, which has started opening on a phased basis, and the re-opening of the River Roch and its historic bridge.

The next phase of the ongoing redevelopment will focus on the continued restoration of the town centre’s extensive heritage, major public realm improvements and the creation of new homes.

The town hall is set to close at the end of 2020 to allow the work to start at the beginning of 2021. The project is set for completion some time in 2023.

The project is being delivered by Rochdale Development Agency on behalf on Rochdale Borough Council and the consultants working on the town hall project are: Donald Insall Associates, conservation architects; Max Fordham, MEP engineers; Frank Whittle Partnership, cost managers; Price and Myers, structural engineers; Focus Consultants, business planners; Redman Design, interpretation and exhibition designers; The Heritage Angel Ltd & Minerva Heritage, activity planners; Gillespies, landscape architects.