Our Town Hall: Detailed planning applications submitted

Planning applications have been submitted for the project to refurbish, partially restore and upgrade Manchester’s iconic town hall building.

The Our Town Hall project aims to safeguard the Grade I-listed building, which opened 141 years ago, while increasing public access to its heritage features and treasures and enhancing its Albert Square setting.

Separate plans to turn Albert Square into one of Europe’s finest civic spaces, which would see it increase in size by around 20 per cent with only one side (Princess Street) remaining open to traffic, were submitted last week.

The 895 documents submitted this week cover the plans for the town hall in exhaustive detail, including applications for the listed building consent required to ensure any alterations to the nationally-important building are sympathetic.

The plans include:

-          Full restoration of parts of the building with the highest heritage importance including the Great Hall.

-          Refurbishment and repair work to the building’s fabric, doors and windows and roof.

-          Improved accessibility with extra lifts and sloped ramp access from the Albert Square and Cooper Street entrances

-          Improved lighting inside and out as well as the repair and restoration of lights with heritage importance

-          Replacement and upgrade of the building’s heating – linking it in with the Civic Quarter Heat Network – and other infrastructure to reduce energy consumption.

-          The creation of a dedicated visitor centre within the town hall and improvements to catering facilities.

-          The creation of flexible revenue-generating office space in the building’s upper floors, which have less significant heritage features.

-          The planning applications also covers putting up scaffolding during the works and extra protection measures for the building and some of its contents while the project is carried out.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is a complex, once-in-a-lifetime project which will secure the future of this Manchester gem. To get to this point has taken a great deal of painstaking work, including detailed survey work since the building was closed, so it’s exciting that we are now seeing these detailed planning applications go in.

“It’s called the Our Town Hall project for a reason. We want to improve people’s access to the building, their sense of ownership of it and share its rich heritage. We can’t wait for it to re-open in all its glory in 2024.”

The planning and listed building consent applications will be considered in the New Year.

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