OLDHAM COUNCIL’S flagship regeneration scheme will see the Old Town Hall reopened as a stunning new ODEON cinema and restaurant venue on Friday, October 21.
This ambitious project had a simple vision – to restore an iconic Grade-II listed building and give it a modern in the heart of a new Oldham town centre – but it faced many challenges.
In 2009 the structure was named in Britain’s ‘Top Ten most endangered buildings’ by the Victorian Society. It had lain vacant since 1995 and was beset with wet and dry rot.
Now, it will be reborn as a state-of-the-art seven-screen ODEON cinema with restaurants in a unique heritage setting next to Parliament Square, a new high-quality public space.
The phased opening begins with ODEON and Costa Coffee then sees restaurant unit tenants, including Nando’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and Loungers, following in the weeks ahead.
The opening will be celebrated with a free event for the public – ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants‘ – that promises to be a spectacular outdoor show at 7.30pm.
Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “The Old Town Hall became a symbol of decline but it has now been restored to one of civic pride.
“I am so thrilled that people are finally going to get to see and enjoy the results of this project for themselves – and I’m certain they will like what they see.
“We are ambitious for Oldham and this is the flagship project in a wider regeneration programme designed to transform it into a great place for residents, visitors and businesses.
“We recognised the arrival of Metrolink was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to spark the town centre back into life and we have seized it.
“It wasn’t good enough that we haven’t had a cinema for 30 years. It wasn’t good enough that we had no Arts and Heritage centre to celebrate our history or no public square for families to spend their leisure time.
“And it wasn’t good enough that we were struggling to attract retailers at both ends of the scale – from specialist independent traders to the likes of Marks & Spencer.
“All that is changing and this development sends out the message that we’re deadly serious about delivering better for Oldham.
“The Old Town Hall represents a huge boost to Oldham with the creation of more than 230 new jobs and the attraction of new private investment.
“It will be worth an estimated £5.4 million to our local economy, drawing around 224,000 extra visitors per year.
“This is a stunning development that gives us something to really shout about again – it is an absolute gamechanger.”
Oldham Council appointed BDP as architects for the project in 2012 and the plans were backed by hundreds of residents at a consultation event.
The design retains key architectural features like the ballroom, council chamber, committee rooms and court rooms, which have been transformed into cinema screens.
A new extension, a translucent glass light-box, also creates a new façade onto what was Clegg Street. This extension provides a new entrance and foyers to the cinema areas and stunning views of Parliament Square.
Since October 2013, construction firm Morgan Sindall Group plc has replaced or replicated 92 different styles of heritage tiles, made 2,282 replica replacement tiles and had craftsmen carrying out 1,250 heritage tile repairs.
Full costs of the Old Town Hall development were set out in a report to Cabinet in January 2015 and can be viewed online.