WOLVERHAMPTON’S Civic Halls are to stay closed for a further two years after a restoration project was significantly expanded.
Under initial plans, costing £14.4 million, work on the Civic Hall (cap. 3,000) and The Wulfrun Hall (730) was due to be completed in March (see LIVE UK issue 199).
However, new surveys and reports on the building revealed structural, mechanical, electrical and engineering issues, and the venues’ owner City of Wolverhampton Council has approved further renovations which will add an extra £23.6m to the cost.
“Given the mammoth magnitude of the issues uncovered by our contractors, it’s fair to say that the full restoration work we are now proposing is a very different project from the original one,” says councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy.
“However, a thriving and vibrant Civic Halls that continues to draw people from all over the country is a key part of our vision for a successful city.”
Talks are taking place with other venues in the city to see if scheduled events can be moved elsewhere.
The original improvements included increasing the seated capacity in the Civic Hall by 539 to 2,554, with a standing capacity of 3,549, and building a new balcony in The Wulfrun Hall, to raise seating capacity to 862 and standing to 1,300. The additional work is scheduled to be completed by autumn 2020.
In a surprise to many who knew and worked with him, Civic Halls general manager Mark Blackstock has left the position after 20 years. A council spokesman says Blackstock had left to pursue “other commercial interests”.
LIVE UK was unable to contact Blackstock at press time.