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Council agrees additional funding boost for Heywood Civic Centre

The plans will transform the well known and loved cultural venue

Plans to transform Heywood Civic Centre just got bigger and better, after councillors agreed to plough an additional £2.25m into the scheme at last night’s (Wednesday 21 February) budget fixing council.

The well-known venue is currently closed while preparation work takes place ahead of a proposed redevelopment, which is expected to start in April. Under the original proposals, which were submitted for planning in December, a brand new 50 square metre extension with a glazed frontage onto Peine Square would be created to open up the venue. Under the new proposals, this extension will now stand at 150 square metres to create a more accessible entrance foyer which will contain a café bar that doubles up as a box office, with increased capacity for café seating and a new kitchen. The increased funding will also enable the creation of a new main bar at ground level. This means the mezzanine level, where the bar would have gone in the original scheme, can now offer flexible use during the day and act as an overspill area during evening events. The additional investment will also fund the creation of two additional changing rooms to increase the capacity of performers, enabling larger shows to be staged at the venue. In addition to refurbishment of the existing facilities, two new accessible toilets with baby changing facilities will also be available for public use, alongside a new Changing Places Toilet, located in the new entrance foyer.  The wider plans for the Heywood Civic Centre include retractable seating in the auditorium, to enable a more flexible performance space, and upgrades to the sound and lighting systems. New opportunities for the community to participate in the arts will be created by Your Trust, and local arts organisation, Cartwheel Arts, will be relocated to a new base in the centre. The plans are part of an £8.5 million investment into arts and culture in the borough, thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport funding. In addition to the work at Heywood Civic Centre, the grant is also supporting the redevelopment of Touchstones Rochdale, which will reopen to the public in 2025. Councillor Danny Meredith, cabinet member for regeneration and housing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “I’m delighted that we have approved this additional funding, which will enable us to do much more than we originally envisaged with this much loved venue. It’s one of a number of improvements we told residents we would deliver as part of the Heywood masterplan, and I’m excited to see we’re already delivering on these commitments.” The redevelopment of the Heywood Civic Centre is a key part of the Heywood masterplan, which outlines major improvements which will be delivered in the area. These include the creation of new housing, including 72 new properties at the former Marina Ropeworks site, and changes to the roads in the area to improve journeys. Elsewhere in Heywood, work to restore the 91-year-old Queen’s Park Bridge is already under way. Heywood Civic Centre is operated by the council’s leisure and culture partner, Your Trust, who are also partners in the project, and Rochdale Development Agency (RDA) are managing the project on the council’s behalf. North-West based Hive Projects and K2 Architects have been appointed as part of the design team. Councillor Sue Smith, cabinet member for communities and co-operation at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The Heywood Civic Centre has been a focal point of the Heywood community since the 1960s and I’m very excited about this important investment into its future. These improvements will enable a much bigger variety of performances to be held here, boosting its status as an important cultural venue in our borough.”  The Capital Investment Programme supporting the redevelopment of Heywood Civic is funded by Arts Council England and Rochdale Borough Council. Heywood Civic Centre is expected to reopen to the public in 2025.

 

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