The £37m regeneration of Oldham’s Old Town Hall is due to complete this Friday, when it reopens as a seven-screen Odeon cinema and restaurant venue.
The grade two-listed building has been vacant and derelict since 1995. In 2009 the structure was named in Britain’s ‘Top Ten most endangered buildings’ by the Victorian Society.
Oldham Council appointed BDP as architect for the project in 2012.
The building’s conversion into a cinema and leisure destination retains key architectural features like the existing ballroom, council chamber, committee rooms and court rooms, which have been transformed into cinema screens.
A new extension, a translucent glass light-box, also creates a new façade onto what was Clegg Street. This extension provides a new entrance and foyers to the cinema areas and views of Parliament Square.
Extensive restoration work has also been undertaken within the building. Since October 2013, construction firm Morgan Sindall has replaced or replicated 92 different styles of heritage tiles, made 2,282 replica replacement tiles and had craftsmen carrying out 1,250 heritage tile repairs.
The development has used 550 tonnes of steel, 56 tonnes of temporary steel/bracing and propping, seen the pouring of 1,725m³ tonnes of concrete, the installation of 220 concrete piles and 864 repairs made to the external stone.
On Friday 21 October the Odeon cinema and Costa Coffee within the Old Town Hall will open, while restaurant tenants Nando’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Loungers will begin operating in phases over the coming weeks.
Cllr Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: “We are ambitious for Oldham and this is the flagship project in a wider regeneration programme designed to transform it into a great place for residents, visitors and businesses.
“We recognised the arrival of Metrolink was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to spark the town centre back into life and we have seized it.
“It wasn’t good enough that we haven’t had a cinema for 30 years. It wasn’t good enough that we had no arts and heritage centre to celebrate our history or no public square for families to spend their leisure time. And it wasn’t good enough that we were struggling to attract retailers at both ends of the scale – from specialist independent traders to the likes of Marks & Spencer.
“All that is changing and this development sends out the message that we’re deadly serious about delivering better for Oldham.”
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