Town hall refurb to start this month after delays

The £330m refurbishment and upgrade of Manchester’s grade one-listed town hall will finally start after the project was delayed due to Covid-19 and the discovery of peregrine falcons nesting in the clock tower.

However, the project completion date has been pushed back to 2024, from 2023.

Contractor Lendlease was due to start work on the main phase of the project in March, but a range of issues prevented it from doing so – in particular the discovery of the birds, which has incurred extra costs for the council as it waits for the protected species to leave the nest before erecting scaffolding.

The cost of the main construction contract – including the restoration of the building and public realm improvements – has risen to £214m from £190m.

Manchester City Council has now given official notice to proceed with the works, while stressing that the project overall remains “on budget” as the additional costs incurred in recent months have been absorbed through contingency funding.

However, the anticipated completion of the refurbishment has been pushed back to May 2024 from December 2023, according to a report ahead of a meeting of the council’s executive committee on Friday.

A Deed of Variation has been agreed between Lendlease and the council to protect against possible future delays on the back of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

To date, £18m of works have been conducted and £136m procured, the document added.

The 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 and external public realm works. Planning consent was awarded in January.

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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