The main phase of the £330m refurbishment and upgrade of the grade one-listed town hall is scheduled to start before the end of March, the council said.
The Manchester City Council-led project includes full restoration of parts of the Alfred Waterhouse-designed building including the Great Hall, and 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. Planning consent was awarded in January.
“This is a hugely complex scheme,” said Cllr Nigel Murphy, lead member for Our Town Hall scheme, in a statement on Wednesday. “It will protect and improve access to an iconic building and its treasures for current and future generations of Manchester people.”
Manchester Town Hall has been closed since 2018 to prepare for the £330m project. In order to start in the coming weeks, work has been taking place behind the scenes, including relocating services that were based in the building, moving and cataloguing heritage items, conducting 600 surveys to understand the building’s condition and materials, putting up scaffolding and removing asbestos.
Murphy said: “There’s been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes, but we are now entering the main phase, when much of the activity will be more visible. There’s still a lot of work to do but we look forward to the Town Hall reopening in 2024.”
The city council’s executive committee is expected to receive a report approving a ‘notice to proceed’ with the main phase of works when it meets on 11 March.
Proposals for the pedestrianisation of neighbouring Albert Square were also approved in January, but the start date for this component of the scheme has yet to be revealed.
The Town Hall refurbishment team includes Lendlease as contractor, Purcell is 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.
Although not formally part of the Our Town Hall project, work has also taken place to install infrastructure connecting the Town Hall with the Civic Quarter Heat Network, a shared heating system to improve its energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.