Wiltshire Council is investigating different funding options that could see the existing City Hall in Salisbury completely redeveloped into a modern entertainment venue. This, it is hoped, would bring with it wider economic benefits to Salisbury and the surrounding areas, while complementing the city’s existing and emerging cultural offer.
Cllr Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council, made the announcement at his latest Ask the Leader session, which took place on 17 May at Bourne Hill. The council has been carrying out repair surveys on the existing City Hall building to find out how much it would cost to get it into a fit state to reopen.
However, the cost of simply making the building usable would be more than £2m. To then improve the overall quality of experience for a visitor to the venue, would cost far more and so the council has been looking into other options to do more.
Being able to make a significant investment would also open up the intriguing option of moving the city’s library and Young Gallery into the redeveloped site.
The current library will need around £1m of repairs and it may be a sensible option to embed it as part of the new City Hall project, given it wouldn’t need to close while that site is being worked on.
The council has stated that it is committed to developing an innovative library service in the city in a building fit for the future. However, no final decisions have been made regarding the library and all stakeholders will be kept up to date.
The council is still looking to work with a third party to help bring its City Hall vision to life and operate the venue, and will now continue to develop a comprehensive project plan.
Cllr Richard Clewer said: “The subject of the future of City Hall is regularly brought up in meetings I go to in the city or when I’m out and about, and it’s abundantly clear people are passionate about it, as am I.
“We’ve always had ambitions to not simply reopen City Hall as it was but to do so much more with a venue that has such potential, which is why we bid for Levelling Up Funding.
“However, we are now looking at other funding sources to broaden the scope of what we can do. Our aim is a brand new venue the city can be proud of, which will add to the cultural offer and drive economic growth and regeneration.
“These plans are at a very early stage, but we are determined to bring a first-class entertainment venue to the city by reopening City Hall and delivering our commitment to a cultural quarter.
“We will comprehensively develop our vision and will keep people up-to-date on our plans, but the community can be assured this is a top priority for me and I’m determined to see it through.”
Any formal plans will be subject to relevant planning and development processes.