WORK is set to start in the New Year on repairing Ashton Town Hall in preparation for plans to bring the Grade II listed building back into use.
Tameside Council's cabinet has agreed to spend £270,000 of the £10million budget set aside for the restoration and redevelopment.
The emergency repairs will safeguard the future of this significant heritage asset and prevent further deterioration. They include work to the parapet and roof and to keep the building watertight. Scaffolding already in place at the rear of the building has been designed as a working platform for any refurbishment works to speed up the process.
The repairs are set to cost £120,000 with extra money allocated for a survey to establish the extent of work required for restoration and in case a contingency is required, to prevent delays. The survey is expected to take eight weeks to complete.
Executive Member for Finance and Economic Growth, Cllr Oliver Ryan, said: "The condition of Ashton Town Hall has caused concern so I'm delighted that through the agreed funding of £270,000, significant work can now commence to safeguard the future of this magnificent building.
"Once the building's secured a survey will be carried out to establish what's needed to restore Ashton Town Hall to its former glory and when fully renovated the building will become more marketable for use, breathing life back into this important civic structure."
Ashton Town Hall has been the traditional home of municipal life in Ashton since its opening in 1840 and has remained largely unchanged in layout since it was extended in 1878. As Tameside's premier civic building, its heritage importance and significance lies in its classical façade framing the Market Square and anchoring the historic setting at the very heart of the town.
Work has taken place on how the building can be remodelled internally to support 21st Century use, the needs of the community, the regeneration of Ashton Town Centre and the building's financial viability. Any future plans will consider the Council's commitment to recreate the Museum of the Manchester Regiment inside. The aim is to provide an opportunity to display and access its collection in new ways and provide visitors with extraordinary experiences.
The scheme is part of Vision Tameside, which is developing state-of-the-art facilities and making Ashton Town Centre a more accessible and pleasant place to visit and shop.
It includes Tameside One, containing a Joint Public Service Centre – headquarters for both Tameside Council and Tameside and Glossop CCG – featuring the new Ashton Library, customer services and welfare rights, Citizens Advice, Cash Box Credit Union and Jobcentre Plus.
It's also home to Tameside College's Advanced Skills Centre, providing students with one of the best learning resources in Greater Manchester in specialist subjects including hospitality and catering, bakery, travel and tourism, hair and beauty and business.
A new Wilko store has also opened at Tameside One and Ashton Interchange is due to open in the spring, providing an attractive gateway and making it much easier to change between modes of transport, like trams and buses.
A Public Realm scheme is also renewing paving around the development, as well as planting trees and installing seating and other features to create a striking town centre that attracts visitors.