Preston Guild Hall external PCC c

The council will put together a business plan for resuming operations. Credit: PCC

Reopening on bill at Preston Guild Hall

Closed suddenly in 2019, the city council is now pressing on with plans for the venue’s future after legal wrangles were settled.

The venue, opened in 1973, consists of two theatres: the Grand Hall, with seating for 2,034, and the 780-seat Charter Theatre, with a number of retail units on the ground floor.

Preston Council said that in the first instance, a business case would be prepared to plot a workable future for the Guild Hall, which will require work to bring it up to public access standards.

The legal wrangle that saw the Guild Hall shut down had its roots in 2014, when a cash-strapped council sold the 99-year leasehold to a private operator in local entrepreneur Simon Rigby, who set in motion a £1m revamp designed by Frank Whittle Partnership.

Five years later, amid some controversy, the venue went into administration, an event that prompted the council to take back control. The council declared that the forfeiture meant all sub-leases were null and void, a claim that was contested and contributed to a legal stalemate that continued beyond the death of Rigby in 2020, and has only now been resolved.

Cllr Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, said: “Preston’s iconic Guild Hall can now look forward to a bright future once more. The much-loved Guild Hall is vital to the economy of the city and we know that our residents will be glad to hear the good news. The council will be exploring all options in order to give the building a new lease of life and a viable future.”

The council’s chief executive Adrian Phillips warned that there will be no quick fix as the local authority looks to make the venue an asset once more. He said: “There has been lots of interest in future plans of the building and we understand the significance and importance of the Guild Hall to the people of Preston, the city and the wider city region.

“We are now in a position where we can prepare a business case in the hope of securing a long term, sustainable, and profitable future for the building. It will be a significant task to deliver a positive and optimistic future for The Guild Hall Preston but we are committed to bringing it back into use and once again, it being at the heart of culture and entertainment in Preston.”

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By Adrian

That’s good news.

The building does, in my view, need an extensive retrofit. Replacing plant, updating hospitality and backstage facilities, threading new spacious rooms in the fabric.


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