The £10.4 million redevelopment of Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls came a step closer today with the city council submitting its planning application. More than £174.4 million of public and private investment in the city centre over the next 12 months has been laid down to stimulate economic growth and increase employment opportunities.
The refurbishment of the Civic and Wulfrun Halls will be funded by £6.2 million from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal and £4.2 million from Wolverhampton City Council. International property and construction consultancy, Gleeds, has been appointed to project manage the works on the Grade II listed venues. Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The submission of the planning application and the appointment of Gleeds to project manage the works is an important step forward.
“The refurbishment of these venues will open up further opportunities for hosting conferences and putting on bigger and more diverse shows, as well as diversifying into new areas, such as business conferencing. “There is huge potential for attracting new audiences from across the UK to live events and music, festivals, the arts, culture and night life. “The improved facilities will attract even more visitors to Wolverhampton city centre and the wider sub-region resulting in the creation of more jobs in the local economy.”
Stewart Towe, Black Country LEP Chair added: “We are celebrating a year of progress on the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal projects and the Civic Halls refurbishment will improve a much-loved cultural venue and attract more events and visitors.” The work is due to begin early next year, and will see the Civic Hall given a second balcony – raising capacity by 600. The Wulfrun Hall will also get a balcony, increasing its capacity by 200, allowing both venues to cater for almost 5,000 people in total.
Increasing the size of the stages at both venues will enable them to accommodate bigger productions including tours which the venues cannot currently attract. The toilet and bar facilities will also be revamped to give visitors a much improved experience, while access arrangements for disabled visitors will be upgraded.
Lindsay McCombe, Gleeds Director for the Midlands, said: “Heritage buildings require sensitive and often specialist trade skills when it comes to construction, so our main priority is going to be making sure that Wolverhampton City Council has all of the information it needs to achieve a quality finish that offers best value.”
There will be a phased re-opening of the venues with full completion anticipated to be mid-2017. However the venues will be open to accommodate the Grand Slam of Darts in November 2016.