Council bosses have revealed exciting plans to create a new restaurant/bar and a separate café in The Albert Halls, Bolton.
It is hoped the new ventures will form part of the refurbishment of the public-facing areas of the town hall in Victoria Square and will mark significant investment in the town centre.
Initial proposals to revamp The Albert Halls, which includes a theatre, function rooms and staff restaurant, were approved in principle in April.
Since then architects have been scoping out designs and the latest proposals include a ground floor café which would open out into an outdoor seating terrace onto the square, catering to daytime and early evening trade.
There would also be scope for a high end restaurant/bar to welcome evening diners, also boasting an outdoor terrace. Both units would provide interested parties with an opportunity to occupy a prime town centre location.
In addition, new lifts would be installed and toilets would be fully refurbished to a high standard. The existing function rooms, which are used for meetings, weddings and other private functions, would also be refurbished, as would the theatre itself and associated bar areas.
The town hall is a Grade II-listed building and the proposals will require planning permission and listed building consent, including public consultation as part of the planning process.
It is expected that the work, if granted permission, would take approximately 12 months to complete as opposed to the initial nine-month timeframe. It is anticipated the project would still commence in February/March 2015, with a completion date of January/February 2016.
The Albert Halls will be closed to the public during the refurbishment and alternative arrangements will be made for existing room bookings.
As a result, the council would need to reconsider the location for its 2015/16 festive programme of events, which includes a pantomime and Christmas lights switch-on as traditionally these have been based in the town hall and Albert Halls.
Staff will be redeployed within the council for the duration of the refurbishment.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “These new proposals are extremely exciting for the people of Bolton and are an integral part of our plans for town centre regeneration.
“Creating a high end restaurant and new café within the town hall, and making the beautiful Grade II-listed building more accessible to the public is a bold step, but one we hope will be embraced by local residents and visitors alike.
“However, we must stress that these are still proposals that are subject to change, and in the very early stages of development. Like any other redevelopment we must first succeed in obtaining the appropriate permissions.
“There will be an element of disruption while the Albert Halls’ side of the building is closed but we are working closely with everyone concerned to ensure that our festive programme of events continues for the benefit of the town.”
The proposals were approved in principle at the council’s Cabinet meeting on August 18 and staff have been briefed. A planning application is expected to be submitted within the next few months.
Anticipated cost for the project is around £6.5 million and would be met by capital funding.