Manchester Town Hall ©Purcell (2)
Purcell is the architect that designed the scheme. Credit: via Manchester City Council

Town Hall refurb ‘on track’ for 2024 completion

Sarah Townsend

The £320m upgrade of Manchester’s grade one-listed town hall is 40% complete, progressing on time and on budget after initial delays last year, the city council said.

Contractor Lendlease was originally due to start work on the main phase of the project last March, but a range of issues prevented it from doing so. These included the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the discovery of nesting peregrine falcons in the clock tower, which incurred extra costs for the council as it waited for the protected species to leave before erecting scaffolding.

The cost of the main construction contract – including the restoration of the building and public realm improvements – rose to £214m from £190m and the completion of the refurbishment was pushed back to May 2024 from December 2023.

However, since the start on site last July, the project has been progressing to plan, according to a report to Manchester City Council’s scrutiny committee that meets next Tuesday.

The project is approximately 40% through the construction period, and levels of labour on site are at or near to those anticipated pre-pandemic, the report said. The exception is that city council project teams and an external consultant have only been able to be accommodated at the site on a part-time basis due to social distancing rules.

The procurement strategy for the project is also progressing to plan, with £64.5m of work still to be procured, the report added.

The most recent contract to be awarded was in April to Anglesey-based Greenough & Sons Roofing Contractors, which is delivering the £1.5m first phase of roofing work at the town hall, including upgrading roof slate and timbers.

The total projected construction cost is £323.7m, according to a budget update provided in the report.

The council-led project includes full restoration of parts of the Alfred Waterhouse-designed building including the Great Hall, together with refurbishment and reparation of the building’s external fabric, windows and roof.

Accessibility improvements are also planned, together with the creation of a visitor centre within the town hall and external public realm works. Planning consent was awarded in January 2020.

As well as Lendlease, the project team includes Purcell as the architect, Mace as project manager, Ramboll as structural engineer, Planit IE as landscape architect, Arup as building services engineer, and Faithful + Gould as quantity surveyor.

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Incredible work…expensive but incredible…the building is a national treasure. When it opens up along with the newly refurbished Albert square it will be a civic quarter to be proud of.

By Anonymous

Why is it taking so long? Agree with anonymous about the significance of this building but the timescale seems immense.

By Elephant