The £16m redevelopment of Rochdale’s grade I listed town hall has taken a major step forward, with the appointment of an award-winning architecture firm to take forward its restoration.
Donald Insall Associates, whose team have worked on prestigious projects across the country, including the Houses of Parliament, Manchester’s John Rylands Library and the Women’s Suffrage Memorial in Parliament Square, beat off stiff competition to lead the restoration of the treasured building, which is one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the country.
The respected firm will lead a team of specialists who have been commissioned to transform the Victorian town hall, following a successful round one bid to the The National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund ) for £8.9m.
The project, due for completion in 2023, will restore the famous landmark’s many historic features, including the magna carta mural and ceiling panels in the great hall and its extensive stained glass windows.
The gothic masterpiece, which was once at the heart of civic life in the borough but is now used mainly for functions, will also be brought back into use for the public, with interpretation set to tell the fascinating story of Rochdale and its people.
The old library on the first floor, which was more recently used as office space, will also be restored and re-opened for community use as the new Bright Hall, in honour of prominent industrialists and radical politicians, the Bright family.
A series of access improvements, including the installation of new lifts and toilets, will open up the spectacular space and make it more accessible to the public than ever before.
Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The town hall is a place of majesty and beauty, which is renowned across the country. For that reason, we set the bar extremely high when selecting specialists to lead its restoration. A building so special needs the absolute best and we’re confident we’ve got the calibre here to make this critical project a huge success.”
Tony Barton, Chairman of Donald Insall Associates, said: “Rochdale Town Hall is one of our great, internationally important civic buildings which has served the people of the borough for 150 years. Our team is proud to have been selected to help deliver this important project to provide a world class focus for residents and visitors as part of the council’s on going transformation of the area.”
The appointment comes weeks after global landscape designers, Gillespies, were appointed to lead the £3m redesign of Town Hall Square, which surrounds the town hall. Gillespies, who will be working alongside Donald Insall Associates and the rest of the team, are planning a complete redevelopment of the space to better frame the town hall by creating a stunning public realm to rival the best public squares in Europe.
Also joining Donald Insall Associates and Gillespies are a first class team, who collectively have a wide experience of working on significant heritage projects. The Frank Whittle Partnership will be leading on the cost management and structural engineers will be Price and Myers.
Max Fordham has been selected to carry out building services engineering, the 3d scanning and metric survey are being undertaken by the University of Salford, activity planning will be carried out by Link4Life and Focus Consultants and L & R Consulting have been commissioned for Business Planning. The exhibition design and interpretation of the town hall will be undertaken by Redman Design.
The restoration of Rochdale Town Hall is part of the wider £400m regeneration of Rochdale town centre, which has included the award winning river re-opening scheme, the new transport Interchange and town centre Metrolink stop and the Rochdale Riverside retail and leisure development, which will open in 2020.
The project team:
Conservation architect, principal designer and lead consultant
Donald Insall Associates
Building Services engineering
Price & Myers
Frank Whittle Partnership
3D scanning and metric survey
University of Salford Centre for Applied Archaeology
Focus Consultants with L&R consulting
Exhibition and Interpretive Design