Views sought on the future of Rochdale’s most treasured building

posted 29 Sep 2016, 05:39 by Rochdale TC   [ updated 29 Sep 2016, 07:16 ]

Residents are being asked for their views on £16m plans to transform Rochdale's Grade I listed town hall, as the council prepares to submit a new bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The 145-year-old building is widely regarded as one of the finest town halls in the country and besides council meetings is regularly used for TV and film locations, weddings, tours and other showcase events.

Designed by William Henry Crossland and built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £160,000 (£13.4 million in 2016), the building was described by authoritative art historian Nikolaus Pevsner as having a "rare picturesque beauty".

But the council is bidding for funds to make a number of improvements so the borough’s residents and visitors can more out of the nationally-important landmark.

The improvements include:

           Opening up parts of the building that are currently closed to the public
           Creating a new ‘lesser hall’ for smaller functions and community events in what was originally the library
           Converting the old police cells and fire station into a bar/restaurant, run as a co-operative or social enterprise
           Restoring the Great Hall, including the impressive Magna Carta mural and ornate ceiling tiles
           Improving and extending the Zodiac Bar and providing new toilets on all floors to better support events and activities
           Improving accessibility to all parts of the building by adding extra lifts and opening up previously hidden spaces

The council’s initial bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was rejected late last year, as 12 different organisations across the country collectively bid for £142m from a £54m pot. 

The council’s revised bid will be submitted in December this year, with public feedback forming an important part of the application.

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for culture, health and wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the town hall and take our role as its custodians very seriously. 

“We’ve already made big changes since our last bid, including opening the hugely popular Clock Tower restaurant and moving the Rochdale Music Service into the building. But we’d like to do so much more and we won’t be able to without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

“Public feedback is a very important part of the bid, so we would urge people to get behind us by filling out our online survey.”

The survey can be viewed and filled in at rochdale.gov.uk/consultations.

Further information about the town hall, including events and how to book a tour, can be found at rochdale.gov.uk/townhall 

Anyone without access to a computer who would like to fill the survey in can contact Neil Eccles, Heritage Project Officer, on 01706 927044.

The closing date for the consultation is 31 October.

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