Rochdale’s grade-one listed town hall has secured the first stage of funding to support an £8.9m restoration programme.
Rochdale Council is planning a comprehensive refurbishment of the building, opened in 1871, which will include restoration of historic features such as stained-glass windows, its Magna Carta mural and ceiling tiles, as well as improvement works to the building’s exterior.
As part of the works, the council plans to open up areas that have been previously off-limits to the public to use a museum, while the old library on the second floor will be redeveloped into a new space to be used for functions and educational events.
Two additional lifts and a new entrance are also proposed to make the building more accessible.
The proposals have secured an initial £688,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding which will help the council finalise its plans for the building. A second stage of the bid will be submitted in December 2019 and a final decision is expected in April 2020.
If successful, the project is expected to start in the same year and complete by the summer of 2023.
The plans for the Town Hall form part of a wider £25m investment in heritage assets in the town, including £3m earmarked for a revamp of Town Hall Square, alongside the redevelopment of the area around Drake Street.
Cllr Allen Brett, leader of Rochdale Council, said: “This support is fantastic news for our borough. It means we can now put in motion plans for our most important building, which is unrivalled in its splendour and majesty, to be restored to its former glory and, more importantly, opened up to the people of our borough and beyond.
“It’s fitting that the town hall, which is such a major part of our history, could now help bring the story of our great borough and its people right up to the modern day through the fantastic interpretation rooms and educational spaces which we propose to create as part of this project.
“We’ve been working with Rochdale Development Agency and our local community on this project to reinvent the town hall for future generations and the initial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund means we are one step closer to realising these fantastic plans.”