Focus appointed to progress Town Hall transformation

 

The eagerly-awaited redevelopment of the iconic Cheltenham Town Hall has moved a step closer following the appointment of specialist firm Focus Consultants to undertake a full feasibility study for the project.

 

The news follows June’s release of the Cheltenham Trust’s three-year vision for the strategic development of the town’s key cultural, heritage and leisure assets. In 2016, the Town Hall project was named top of the town’s “wish list” in a public consultation on key projects.

 

Elements of the feasibility study, which will take around six months to complete, will include benchmarking, consultation and an options review, contribution to a funding strategy and an outline implementation strategy. The redevelopment project as a whole is scheduled for completion in 2021.

 

An independent charity established in 2014, Cheltenham Trust manages and develops key venues on behalf of Cheltenham Borough Council, namely the Cheltenham Town Hall, Pittville Pump Room, The Wilson, Gloucestershire’s Premier Art Gallery and Museum, Leisure at Cheltenham and the Prince of Wales Stadium.

 

In further developing the town’s vibrant cultural economy, the Trust is looking to increase annual footfall by 300,000 to 1.6 million by the 2019-2020 financial year.

 

In February this year, the council identified £2.4m capital budget for the Town Hall project, subsequently issuing an invitation to tender. With Focus now appointed, the Trust is stepping up its efforts to secure funding from a variety of sources to make the project a reality.

 

The historic fabric of the Grade II-listed building will be harnessed to develop a truly distinctive destination that will widen participation and enjoyment of the venue for people from all backgrounds and with varying interests. Soundproofing and improved digital technology will be a key part of the project.

 

Julie Finch, CEO of the Cheltenham Trust, said: “With Focus now appointed, we are delighted to be able to move the Trusts’ vision forward to both preserve the building for future generations and transform the programme of events to reach new audiences and make this a venue that will be at the heart of Cheltenham for generations to come. This will be vital in enabling us to go out and secure the funding we need to ensure Cheltenham Town Hall is developed to its full potential.”

 

Projects which Focus has previously worked on in the cultural and heritage sector include Bristol’s M-Shed museum and the Charles Dickens Museum in King’s Cross, London.

 

Heather Frecklington, partner at Focus, said: “This is a truly unique and exciting project to be involved with. Cheltenham is a very special place architecturally, and we think the historic fabric of the building will allow the creation of something special that will support the Trust and Council’s ambitions for the Town Hall.”

 

Councillor Flo Clucas, cabinet member for healthy lifestyles added: “Renewing the Town Hall will give Cheltenham the opportunity to attract new users, provide a focal point for young people and an opportunity for all to enjoy a great building and location. We are working together to make this a success of which Cheltenham can be proud.”

 

The tender for the feasibility study, which was issued in February, outlined the Trust’s desire for Cheltenham Town Hall to be developed into a more culturally, socially, environmentally, technically and economically viable destination contributing to an increased sense of place and helping to establish Cheltenham as a year-round destination.

 

For more information contact Tristan Mulholland on tristan.mulholland@cheltemhamtrust.org.uk or call 07342 087286.

 

Image caption: (from left to right) Mark Sheldon, Director of Resources for Cheltenham Borough Council, Julie Finch: CEO of The Cheltenham Trust, Steven Fletcher, Partner of Focus Consultants