Albert Halls makeover planned

Bolton Council has drawn up plans for a £6.5m revamp of its entertainment venue within the town hall.

If granted permission, work would take 12 months to complete, starting in early 2015. 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 2-listed building and the proposals will require planning permission and listed building consent, including public consultation as part of the planning process.

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.

The proposals were approved in principle at the council's Cabinet meeting on 18 August and staff have been briefed. A planning application is expected to be submitted within the next few months.

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