Morgan Sindall plc, project contractors, have now been on-site working to transform the historic Grade II-listed building into a seven-screen cinema with six restaurants since October 2013.
This scheme lies at the heart of wide-ranging regeneration plans for Oldham town centre and is expected to create 74 full-time and 159 part-time jobs, generate £5.5 million for the local economy each year, and attract an estimated 214,000 extra visits to the town centre, spending around £2.4m extra in the local economy each year.
In recent times the Old Town Hall building and site, which ceased public operation in the 1990s, have been largely obscured from public view by hoardings and weather wraps but a new photographic gallery now gives residents the chance to view the current state of works from inside and around the building.
The images show the extent of works ongoing to restore and rebuild the Old Town Hall roof and dome and to brace the interior of the building.
Some of the venue’s historic features can also be seen, including the Egyptian room which has now been cleaned prior to a major refurbishment in full consultation with heritage experts.
There are also images showing a ‘history box’ compiled by Morgan Sindall plc staff who have been storing items found during the works. These include lost relics like spectacles, coins, shoes, council papers – and even an old photograph of Marilyn Monroe.
Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is a complex project and this is a great opportunity for the public to see more of the fantastic work going on inside the Old Town Hall.”
“In working to restore the venue as a source of civic pride our contractors are undertaking painstaking works to protect its heritage whilst preparing it for a modern use as an ODEON cinema and restaurants. It’s that unique historic setting which we believe will put this development in a different class from the identikit out-of-town retail sites it will be competing with.
“This new photographic gallery shows some of the work currently ongoing behind the scenes like masonry and façade repairs and the installation of new windows, and I am pleased to report that construction work remains firmly on track for completion in Spring 2016.
“The next steps the public will begin to notice externally will be when the weather wrap and scaffolding are removed in June and the restored building starts to be revealed to passers-by.
“The summer will see several major milestones in this project with the installation of the first steelwork for the unique glass box extension on the Clegg Street side getting underway – and the essential heritage refurbishments to the historic Egyptian room.
“It’s exciting to be able to share images of the progress that is being made – and to feel closer to the day when the Old Town Hall is finally restored to its rightful place as the bustling heartbeat of our town centre.”
“It requires a blend of care, consideration and energy to deliver the restoration which will help breathe new life into the town centre’s evening economy.
“We are just over half way through the programme and on course to complete on schedule.”
The Old Town Hall will have one first floor and five ground floor restaurants enjoying external seating areas and excellent views across Parliament Square: Oldham’s first new high-quality public space in decades.
Tushingham Moore are letting agents on the project and the new restaurant units range in size from 2,500 sq ft to 6,070 sq ft.
Negotiations with potential tenants are ongoing with announcements expected later this year.
Information about the scheme’s economic benefits can be found on the Oldham Council website.