A cabinet report ahead of Monday night’s meeting has revealed that the Fairfield Halls now won’t be ready to open fully until the end of March 2019 – a full nine months later than promised.
The Halls closed for a much-needed £30million refurbishment in June 2016, with the promise that the works would be done more speedily and economically if the whole of the venue “went dark”.
Then, the project was supposed to take just two years.
The refurbishment project is being managed by Brick by Brick, the council’s wholly owned housing developer, which was formed in 2015 and has yet to build a single new home.
It seems unlikely that any events or performances will be possible at the Ashcroft Theatre or in the Fairfield Halls’ reconfigured exhibition space, until April 2019, since the cabinet report talks of full handover to operators, BHLive, at the end of March 2019. BHLive will get access to the Concert Hall by the end of 2018, though it will then have to oversee the fitting out process.
At present, the slow-progress works see a huge gaping hole in the side of the Halls where the Arnhem Gallery used to be.
The cabinet report states that asbestos removal is still on-going in the Ashcroft Theatre – a difficult and time-consuming process which those close to the project had assured the public was undertaken in 2016, before the major building works began.
The council cabinet report states: “In terms of the timescale for the works overall, the Concert Hall will be available by the end of this year with a subsequent phased opening of the other venue spaces to follow with full handover (to its new operator, BHLive) by the end of March 2019.
“The interior of Fairfield Halls is currently stripped back to the bones with the demolition of the Arnhem Gallery now almost complete. The Concert Hall seating has been removed for refurbishment and birdcage scaffolding has been erected within the Hall. Asbestos removal continues within the Ashcroft Theatre in preparation for further works.”
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