The Council and democracy What's planned - the designs

The Town Hall

Our objectives: 

At the very beginning of the project, we set out eight objectives, which now form the basis of our decisions and help us to make sure that we achieve the best possible outcome for both the Town Hall and Albert Square;

  • secure the long-term future of the Town Hall, its civic role and its external setting,
  • retain and enhance its role as a functioning and efficient Town Hall,
  • restore and celebrate what is a significant heritage asset for Manchester,
  • enhance the use of the building as a visitor destination, and to increase access to Mancunians,
  • transform the experiences of the building’s users and visitors,
  • reduce the carbon footprint and energy costs,
  • maximise any commercial opportunities, and
  • provide economic and social value to the city.

What we know

We’ve carried out extensive research into the building, all the artefacts in it, and Albert Square too, so we now have a detailed understanding of the history and heritage significance. This has helped us in our approach to the designs, and also in planning the conservation work that we’ll need to do.

Why now?

The Town Hall first opened to the public over 140 years ago, so has been subject to the wear and tear, stresses and strains that any historic building faces. Our aim is to repair defects, renew the building services (such as replacing old wiring and plumbing) and add modern facilities like communication links that will make the building more functional, sustainable and
easier to maintain.

What investigations have happened to date

A multidisciplinary team, including apprentices, is on site. A detailed survey has been undertaken both internally and externally to understand what repairs need to be done. This information has been used to create our designs, and we’ve shared this knowledge as part of our commitment to wider engagement, learning, training and legacy. 

How we evaluate what we need to do

Because the building is Grade I listed we have a duty to record its condition now, so that future generations know what we have repaired and why. The aim is to invest in the building now, in order to future-proof it for generations to come.

Public use and access

When the Town Hall re-opens in 2024, it will need to be fully accessible. At the moment, there are barriers to access into and around the building: these will be addressed, and fully inclusive lifts and other facilities will be provided throughout. As well as accommodation for City Council leadership and staff, the Lord Mayor, official events and functions such as weddings, a visitor centre will be added to show some of the fabulous Collections.

How the building will work better

Extensive surveying of the existing, historic building services has helped us to understand how the building was designed to operate. We’ve used this information to develop proposals for the electrics, ICT, lighting, heating, ventilation and acoustics that respect the historic function of the building, while increasing efficiency and lowering the carbon footprint.

What will be new?

A dedicated exhibition space will interpret the history of the building and the Town Hall collection, as well as being a starting point for guided tours around the building. As preparation for this, the Town Hall collection has been fully catalogued prior to storage and will be conserved before being put on public display.


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