A proposal to refurbish part of the grade two-listed town hall, including restoration of its 3,000 sq ft Victorian ballroom to create a multifunctional community space, has won planning consent.
Trafford Council approved the application for listed building consent under statutory delegated powers, which it is using to determine schemes during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The project, designed by Buttress Architects, is being led by the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, a local residents charity set up to identify and progress options to retain the heritage asset for community use.
The total value of the refurbishment has not been disclosed. The project is being part-funded with a £68,000 grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund secured last October.
Stretford Public Hall, which sits on Chester Road opposite Stretford Mall, which is undergoing a large-scale redevelopment, was built in 1878 for the community by local philanthropists John and Enriqueta Rylands.
Over the next century, the building was used for a variety of purposes including as a public library, public baths, a theatre, and council offices.
However, by 2014, it stood empty and was about to be put up for sale when Friends of Stretford Public Hall lodged a bid to save the hall and secured the building’s freehold from Trafford Council in 2015.
Since then, the group has been fundraising and developing plans to restore the hall and repurpose it for use as a community asset.
Under the plans, the 15,000 sq ft building, which has two storeys plus a mezzanine floor, will be transformed to provide function space for weddings, theatre shows, conferences, live music concerts and other events.
The scheme seeks to renovate the ballroom with an opening at the western end of the south wall to form a new servery, while a former staircase landing opening will be reinstated, and new lighting installed.
A ground floor fire escape door will be altered to open up the space, and a general redecoration of the ballroom and replacement of fixtures and fittings will also be carried out under the plans.
Meanwhile, the south-eastern chamber of the hall will be redeveloped from two storerooms to three unisex toilets and one accessible toilet, with deck storage space above to expand public facilities within the building.
A contractor is yet to be appointed, but the work is currently out to tender and expected to start later this year.
The aim is for events held at the ballroom to generate income for the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, which would be reinvested into the maintenance of the building and other community activities.
Neal Charlton, director at Buttress, said last year: “The Friends of Stretford Public Hall are a passionate group of people who are dedicated to restoring and reinstating the Hall’s place at the heart of the community.
“We look forward to working with them to deliver this exciting project, which will bring them one step closer to fulfilling their long-term vision for the building.”