Oldham Council has chosen Interserve to deliver the £16m project at the town’s grade two-listed library and art gallery.
Including gallery spaces, archives, meeting rooms, bars, and public research rooms, the project is based at the library on Union Street, and has been supported by a £3.4m Heritage Lottery Grant, as well as a £4m contribution from the Sir Norman Stoller charitable trust.
Under the planning consent, secured in 2017 by former architect Mecanoo and planner Paul Butler Associates, the proposals include a renewed public square, a local studies centre, and a 120-seat lecture theatre.
Contractor Gilbert-Ash was previously engaged by the council on the project and had completed strip-out of the listed building under a pre-contract services agreement, but the council instead decided to pick Interserve as contractor through the Procure North West framework. Mecanoo has also been replaced as architect by Ellis Williams.
The heritage & arts centre forms part of a wider cultural offering in Oldham, which was to include an overhaul of the Coliseum Theatre.
However, the new-build, £27m project was scrapped in November last year, after council bosses agreed a “new vision” for the Coliseum was needed after the original proposals, first put forward in 2013, saw a rise in costs and a fall in value-for-money.
These proposals would have seen the Coliseum theatre moving from its current home on Fairbottom Street to a new facility on the Southgate Street car park, fronting Union Street. The new venue was to include a 550-seat auditorium and a 170-seat studio theatre, and was scheduled to open by 2020.
Like at the Coliseum, Mecanoo was originally on board as architect, having first secured planning permission in 2015, but was replaced in 2018 as delivery architect, again by Ellis Williams.