Works on the restoration of Wolverhampton’s iconic Civic Halls have restarted after an enforced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
City of Wolverhampton Council has now officially entered into the main contract with delivery partner Willmott Dixon Interiors, who since October had been progressing works on schedule and on budget under a pre-construction service delivery agreement.
They have put in place a raft of on-site measures in line with the Government’s Covid-19 health and safety guidelines – and will now continue transforming the Grade II-listed halls into a top-class entertainment venue for audiences to enjoy for generations to come.
The improvements to the 82-year-old venue are critical to attracting the biggest names in music and comedy, ensuring it generates millions of pounds a year and creates hundreds of jobs in the local economy.
Following the Covid-19 interruption, the revised timetable for the project now means the newly-refurbished Civic Halls are expected to reopen to the public in early 2022.
City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “I am delighted to see Willmott Dixon Interiors back on site to continue the crucial restoration and improvement of this much-loved, Grade-II listed 82-year-old venue.
“Covid-19 has had an unprecedented and unavoidable impact on major construction projects nationally and internationally in terms of time and financial cost.
“But, after being hit hard by covid, regeneration projects like the Civic Halls are even more important to our city’s economic recovery.
“We are creating a truly outstanding entertainment venue, in the heart of the city centre, which will bring in millions of pounds to our local economy and safeguard hundreds of jobs.”
Phil Crowther, Director at Willmott Dixon Interiors, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for construction. The safety of our team remains the highest priority to us which is why we’ve adopted government-backed safety measures across the site, including social distancing practices. Our people and supply chain partners have quickly adapted to the new ways of working and have embraced technology to keep everyone safe.
“It’s great to be fully operational again and bring the project back on track. We’re incredibly passionate about this project and the opportunity it brings to help improve the lives of local people. We can’t wait to deliver a world leading cultural facility that everyone in Wolverhampton can be proud of.”
Essential structural, engineering and electrical works are part of the works programme and visitors are set to benefit from the introduction of a second balcony for the Civic Hall and a balcony in the Wulfrun Hall to provide additional seating.
The height above the stage to the rear of the Civic Hall will be increased to attract bigger and better shows.
Overall, there will be wider and more comfortable seats, bigger and better bars and more space to socialise, expanded and revamped toilet facilities to give visitors an improved experience, lift access to new balconies, better access arrangements for disabled visitors (including enhanced wheelchair access), a greater number of accessible viewing points, and improved room temperatures through the installation of a new air conditioning system.