£2 million bill to re-open Salisbury City Hall as entertainment venue: Wiltshire Council

IT will cost around £2 million to re-open Salisbury City Hall as an entertainment venue, it has been revealed.

A meeting of the Salisbury Area Board on Thursday (September 28), heard how condition surveys on the building show it will require repairs to return the building to a useable condition.

However, Wiltshire Council said it is now starting the formal procurement process of looking for a third-party provider to operate the venue on its behalf.

The move comes after market testing earlier in the year and has been deemed the best option to safeguard the venue’s future and provide long-term financial stability.

“The council will be going to market where interested parties are invited to engage and explain more about the outcomes they’d like to achieve, and the nature of any future arrangement working with the council to operate the venue,” a spokesperson said.

It is also aiming to hold a City Hall market engagement event for potential operators.

The outcome of the procurement process will help inform the council whether it spends around £2m on the repairs required, or looks at a possible larger improvement, if that would make City Hall more functional and viable.

The council also confirmed that, following further investigation, it is not a viable option to move the library and Young Gallery to a refurbished City Hall site, as there wouldn’t be enough space and it would be detrimental to each of the three venues as a result.

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Cllr Richard Clewer, leader of the council, said: “We appreciate people’s enthusiasm and passion to reopen City Hall quickly but when it does open its doors again, we want it to be around for the long-term.

“Therefore, it’s vital we continue to carry out our due diligence, particularly as the national financial picture continues to be challenging, as we really want to make a long-term success of the venue.

“Following our soft market testing earlier in the year, this next part of the process for City Hall is an important step in the project to reopen it as a modern and vibrant entertainment venue.

“Getting in a third-party provider to work alongside us with the right expertise is a key priority for us and we look forward to engaging with potential operators with likeminded approaches to reopening a thriving City Hall.”

He said a team would continue to develop a solution for both the reopening of City Hall and future-proofing Salisbury Library and the gallery.

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