Press 24.01.2019

Gillespies appointed to transform the public realm surrounding Rochdale’s iconic grade I-listed town hall

Gillespies have been selected by Rochdale Borough Council to transform the square surrounding Rochdale's iconic grade I-listed town hall, as part of a planned £3m transformation project.

More than 60 firms expressed an interest in the Town Hall Square project, with eight being shortlisted before Gillespies were selected. The Council were impressed with the team's ambitious plans for a dramatic new setting for the neo-gothic town hall, which would rival the best public squares in Europe.

The Town Hall Square scheme is part of a major project to restore the town hall following a successful round one bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £8.9m. The entire project, which will see around £16m invested in the building, involves the restoration of its historic treasures, including the Magna Carta mural and extensive stained glass windows, as well as making the building more accessible and opening the historic library space on the second floor as a public space.

Our emerging proposals include the removal of the road and parking at the front of the town hall and the creation of extensive pockets of greenery. The new square will also be designed to hold large-scale events, such as the town’s popular Feel Good Festival.

The ambitious plans will encompass the whole of Town Hall Square, including The Esplanade, the rear area up to Packer Spout Gardens, and the island where the Gracie Fields statue now stands.

A key aim of the project is to improve connections between the town hall and the grade I-listed cenotaph and memorial gardens, as well as connecting to other heritage and cultural treasures in the town centre, including the multi-award-winning river re-opening scheme and Touchstones museum.

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “What we’ve got in the town hall is something really special, probably the best civic building in the country, and I’m confident that Gillespies can help us create something in Town Hall Square which will compete with the best public spaces in Europe.”

Around £25m is set to be invested in heritage in Rochdale town centre over the next five years, as part of the council’s £400m regeneration programme for Rochdale town centre.

The initial ideas for Town Hall Square will go out to public consultation in the summer.