Plans are in the pipeline for a major refurbishment of The Albert Halls, Bolton.
The Albert Halls theatre, function rooms and other public areas are set for a complete overhaul next year (2015), in order to bring them up to the standard of the rest of the town hall.
The plan – still in the very early stages of development – is likely to cost in the region of £4 million and will follow the completion of the town hall refurbishment.
The entire building is Grade II listed and certain repairs and maintenance works are essential to preserve the asset’s listed status.
An amount of capital funding has already been set aside for the essential works, including roof repairs, electrical maintenance, a new lift and general redecoration.
The project is expected to take approximately eight or nine months to complete, with a provisional start date of February/March 2015.
The Albert Halls will be closed to the public during the refurbishment and alternative arrangements will be made for existing room bookings.
Anyone who has made a booking at The Albert Halls function rooms for 2015 will be informed of the plans and offered help in finding an alternative.
The Albert Halls employs around 42 members of staff, plus a number of casual evening and weekend roles. Permanent employees will be redeployed within the council for the duration of the refurbishment and will be offered individual consultation on alternative roles.
Executive Cabinet Member and the Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, approved the proposals in principal at his meeting on Monday, April 28 and work will now begin on more detailed plans.
Councillor Morris said: “This is an exciting prospect for The Albert Halls and I will be looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for the public areas of the town hall.
“The town hall is a magnificent Grade II listed building and we have worked hard on improving facilities to enable us to accommodate the majority of our employees, so we can rationalise the rest of our property portfolio thus saving £1 million per year.
“During this time we have kept The Albert Halls’ side of the building running and open to the public. However, we are now at a stage where we can focus our attention to the theatre, Dido restaurant and function rooms with the aim of renovating the building and improving the services we offer.
“There are essential maintenance works that need carrying out, but we also have the opportunity to improve access and develop amenities to enhance the public’s overall experience of The Albert Halls.”
Staff have been briefed on the proposals and organisations with an existing booking should have received a letter informing them of the changes.
More detailed proposals will be brought back to the Leader at a later date.