Band on the Wall wins consent for expansion and restoration

Manchester City Council has approved plans by Inner City Music, the charity that owns and operates Manchester’s Band on the Wall venue, for a scheme that brings the derelict Cocozza building at its rear back to useful life as part of an extended venue.

Gavin Sharp, chief executive of Inner City Music, said: “There has been a music venue operating at Band on the Wall for over a century, and we want to make sure it will be here for at least another 100 years.

“Bringing the Cocozza building into our footprint means we can significantly increase the main venue capacity, expand and upgrade our learning facilities and create a second smaller, intimate venue on-site which will have a capacity of 80.

Designed by Manchester-based OMI Architects and managed by Buro Four, the plans see the main venue capacity increase from 350 to 500 for headline artists and performances. The Picturehouse Bar will be re-modelled with the external terrace space increased and a new commercial kitchen installed.

The planned learning complex will include a rooftop AV suite, allowing young people and education participants to create new digital work by engaging with international touring artists.

The learning spaces will be home to Band on the Wall’s improved archive facilities, enabling the organisation to better catalogue its library of historical content. Selected archive materials will continue to be exhibited in the Picturehouse Bar.

Band On The Wall New Internal Layout

Proposed internal layout of the expanded venue

The Cocozza building is one of only a few remaining structures from the days of the Victorian Smithfield Market. Inner City Music is in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of the building, which is currently held up by scaffolding at the rear of the main building,. Subject to funding, Inner City intends to fully restore the historic façade.

Sharp added: “We respect and embrace the need to maintain and enhance the heritage of Band on the Wall. The Cocozza building is of historical significance to the Smithfield area of the Northern Quarter.

“Our scheme meets the aspirations for additional music and education spaces to provide our audiences with a diverse music-based offering from internationally-renowned artists, but with respect for our local heritage and the history of our area and roots.” The plan is for the Foundry Street facing to host digital artworks.

With planning secured under MCC’s delegated powers, the next major step for Inner City is a second-stage funding bid to Arts Council England to make the £3.5m project a reality.

Dave McCall, director at OMI Architects, said: “Band on the Wall has been a cornerstone of Manchester’s music and cultural landscape for over a century and it is exciting to have developed proposals which will further enhance its offer to Manchester as well as continue to build upon its standing as a leading music and education venue in the North West.”

The project team also includes cost consultant Simon Fenton Partnership, structural engineer DP2 and building services engineer Progressive Services Design.

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