Details of a proposed major project to safeguard and improve Manchester Town Hall and Albert Square have been published.
According to Manchester City Council, the plans are to improve public access and ensure they continue to play a role at the heart of city life for decades to come.
On Wednesday 27 July, a progress report will be considered by the Council’s Executive and before that by its Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee.
However, no final decision on the programme or its budget will be taken until autumn.
The Town Hall, which opened in 1877, is an internationally significant landmark. The building is Grade I-listed and considered to be one of the masterpieces of Victorian architecture.
However, it will be 140 years old next year. While it has been maintained and remains structurally sound, it is now seriously showing its age with many elements reaching the end of their natural lifespan. As it was designed in the 1860s, it no longer fully meets modern access and safety standards, Manchester City Council reports.
A survey of Town Hall conducted since December 2014 found that electrics, plumbing, heating, ventilation and lift installations are in poor condition, reflecting their age. As they are embedded in the fabric of the building, replacing them will involve significant building works.
Numerous other details of the issues of the building were noted and in conclusion, the estimated cost of the work is around £330m.
Deputy Council Leader Bernard Priest said: “If we don’t act we will have to stop using, and start mothballing, significant parts of this much-loved building sooner rather than later. Ultimately it would have to close altogether. Such a situation would be unthinkable”.
There would be further economic benefits as jobs and apprenticeships were created over the life of the project and beyond.
It is intended that the one-off cost of the project would be largely met through long-term borrowing at low rates and would not impact on day-to-day service budgets.
The proposed programme, cost and timings will not be known until further examination of options has been completed.
Once this extra work is completed, a further report will be presented to the Council’s Executive in autumn setting out the proposed programme and costs. This will be considered alongside the Council’s full capital strategy and three-year revenue budget for 2017-2020.
It is intended that contractors to deliver the scheme will be appointed in the first half of 2017 with investigative works starting in 2018 and repair works starting in 2019 and concluding in 2023.