LEVELLING UP: Ashton town hall to be restored
The Museum of the Manchester Regiment and old town hall in Ashton before its temporary closure, Image: Steven Haslington
Ashton Town Hall is to be restored after Tameside council wins nearly £20m in ‘levelling up’ cash from the government.
The funding will also be used to redevelop the former Ashton interchange site and bring new homes, shops and offices into the town, as well as walking and cycling improvements.
However the highest profile project will be the restoration of Ashton Town Hall, which opened in 1840, but which has been closed, along with the Museum of the Manchester Regiment, since 2015.
Bosses had planned to reopen it as part of phase three of the Vision Tameside project, but the collapse of construction firm Carillion in 2018 has delayed works.
The council had previously budgeted £10m from its capital budget renovate the iconic civic building on Market Square.
However pressures on the ability of the authority to finance infrastructure projects meant that the town hall repairs were being looked at as part of a prioritisation review of its capital programme.
The authority faces a funding shortfall of around £30m.
A recent meeting was told that a ‘pause’ had been put on the capital programme with no new projects to be progressed until funding had been secured.
Cabinet member for finance and economic growth, Councillor Oliver Ryan said: “It was fantastic to hear Ashton-under-Lyne mentioned in the Budget 2021 as recipients of Levelling Up funding with reference to our strong bid.
“Our £19.87m bid was based on our vision and ambition to carry out development works at the former interchange site to bring residential, retail and commercial space into the heart of the town; walking, cycling and public realm improvements; and the restoration of Ashton Town Hall.
“The bid was set within the context of our wider town centre masterplanning work, complementing investments we have already made in new education, markets and public service facilities and will support in accelerating delivery of the comprehensive transformation of the town centre.
“We of course welcome any Government support for our own ambitious plans for Tameside and Ashton.
“We look forward to receiving and sharing further details on the level of funding we are to receive and more detailed plans of what we can achieve with that.”
Last January the council agreed to spend £270k on urgent repairs to the town hall, with emergency repair works costing £120k to the building parapet and roof.
Officers had warned that if works were not undertaken urgently then the ‘ significant heritage asset may be put at risk’.
Much of the ‘significant damage’ occurred when the physical link between the town hall and the Tameside Administrative Centre (TAC) was disconnected in order to demolish the centre and clear the site.
Opposition Conservative councillors had accused the council of leaving the building ‘to rot’.
Words: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
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