Purcell, the UK’s leading firm of architects, master planners and heritage consultants, has achieved planning permission for plans to repair, re-present and enhance the landmark Grade I-listed Manchester Town Hall building for Manchester City Council.

The Our Town Hall project will make the site more accessible to the public and adapt the building in order to make revenue for the city, while taking great care of the site’s wealth of heritage features and cutting carbon emissions. In advance of the works starting on site, the project is already providing opportunities for local people, such as 15 M-Futures apprentices. M-Futures is an apprenticeship scheme between Manchester City Council, ManLife and Manchester College focused on construction disciplines.

Planning approval has been granted for Purcell’s application for works to the building alongside an application submitted by public realm specialists Planit i.e. for upgrading the building’s setting in Albert Square. The highly detailed submissions together comprise some 895 planning documents.

The scheme, set to be delivered by Management Contractor Lendlease, will include a restoration of the essential fabric of the town hall, with a particular focus on parts of the building with the highest heritage significance including the Great Hall.

Sensitive modifications to heating, lighting and accessibility comprise key elements of the restoration, with plans to link the heating system with existing infrastructure including the Civic Quarter Heat Network to reduce energy consumption.

Accessibility will be improved by the creation of sloped ramp access from Albert Square, Lloyd Street and Cooper Street entrances, as well as extra lifts.

New visitor facilities will include the creation of a dedicated visitor centre within the existing town hall structure, in addition to there being greater public access around the floor space. Flexible office space will occupy the building’s upper floors to generate on-site revenue.

Purcell was appointed as the lead consultant and conservation-accredited architect in 2017 based on extensive experience and expertise in the progressive conservation of complex, sensitive and high-profile historic sites. The Purcell team is able to overcome the significant heritage challenges through an intimate understanding of the wider Civic Centre evolution and the design intentions of the original Alfred Waterhouse Gothic Revival building. Through innovative use of drone surveying and BIM design technologies the scheme has been developed in a highly detailed manner, working collaboratively with the wider consultant team. By working in close partnership with Manchester City Council, the design solutions ensure a sustainable future for the site, for the benefit of generations to come.

It is 143 years since the iconic Manchester Town Hall opened and over time this much-loved site has been a public landmark. Our aim is to bring the town hall and Albert Square back to the cultural heart of Manchester City as a flagship destination. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with Manchester City Council and our project partners on this incredibly important project for the city.

Mark Goldspink, CEO of Purcell