Delight as Wolverhampton Civic Hall revamp back on track

It’s one of the city’s most famous landmarks and all would probably agree it’s been out of action for too long.

An artist’s impression of the new improved Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, complete with a glass facade and roof-level viewing area
An artist’s impression of the new improved Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, complete with a glass facade and roof-level viewing area

But the Civic Hall has taken a step closer to becoming what everyone wants it to be – a modern, refurbished venue fit for the 21st century hosting major events.

The announcement that a new contractor has been signed up to complete the £38 million renovation of the Civic ends what has been an uncomfortable and disappointing few months for all connected with the famous building.

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And while it is still two years away from re-opening its doors, people passing through the city will soon see work starting up again.

Contractor and house builder Willmott Dixon Interiors will finish off the job that was started by Shaylor Group before it collapsed into administration in the summer.

And there is still much to do. Initial works on the Civic, including the removal of asbestos, have been completed but the main part of the job, which will include an extra 500 seats and improved bar areas, has yet to get under way.

But council bosses will no doubt be relieved at the relative quickness of securing a new contractor, following gloomy predictions of delays lasting years.

Bullish city council leader Ian Brookfield insisted the project will be completed on time and within the £38m budget.

New images show a glass-fronted bar at the side of the Civic and a new third level which will be added as part of the revamp, where visitors can look out onto the street below.

Capacity across both the Civic and its sister Wulfrun Hall will increase to 7,730 (4,600 standing or 3,130 seating).

Each hall will get a new larger bar, extended stages, extra toilet facilities, additional balconies and bigger seats.

Planning approval on the detailed design of the building has now been approved.

The temporary loss of the Civic Hall has meant major events on the city’s calendar, including the money-spinning Grand Slam of Darts having to be moved elsewhere.

Aldersley Leisure Village has acted an honourable replacement but in terms of a venue capable of attracting top-class talent, it is not in the same bracket. Hosting major events outside the city centre has also created logistical problems.

Announcing the deal at the Wolverhampton Business Breakfast hosted by broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, held in Wednesfield yesterday, Councillor Brookfield described Willmott Dixon Interiors as “a national unit with local bases and local units”.

Jaquai Oatley hosted the event

He added: “Detailed planning consent will go in next week.”

Councillor Harman Banger, the council’s economy boss, said: “This is now an exciting time in the project when we will begin to see real changes to the Civic Halls.

"The halls have been around since 1938 and are an important part of our visitor economy – providing jobs and generating millions of pounds every year.

“As part of our regeneration plans for the city we recognised the Grade II-listed building is in need of refurbishment, as well as improvement to ensure it remains a thriving venue to be proud of for decades to come.

"The works will make the halls a world-class venue, enabling them to attract significantly more popular and prestigious entertainment acts, while retaining the current characteristics that make them popular with performers, producers and audiences.”

Phil Crowther, Director of Willmott Dixon Interiors, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to move forward with Wolves Civic. It is a building that the whole team here feel passionate about restoring and we have the best people to bring this project back on track. Me and the team that have worked hard to secure this project, were all born within Wolverhampton, therefore understand how important this venue is.

“Willmott Dixon Interiors are a financially strong company that values people, partnership, innovation and sustainability. Structural refurbishments and historic building are our speciality and we’re extremely excited to be given the opportunity to deliver on this scheme."

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