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How Preston Guild Hall was saved from demolition

Posted on - 8th August, 2014 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News

Preston Guild Hall has hosted some legendary acts over the years

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Preston’s Guild Hall could have been demolished if a bid from Simon Rigby hadn’t been accepted.

Options considered for the Guild Hall by Preston City Council before its sale have been revealed.

A report to the city council’s cabinet where they decided to sell the venue to the local millionaire businessman was restricted from the public.

Following a Freedom of Information request from Blog Preston the council have declined to reveal the financial detail of the deal but the report does show what options the council considered for the venue.

It shows the maintenance needed over an 11 year period to bring the venue up to scratch would have set the city council back £4.2 million.

Simon Rigby has agreed to invest around £1 million in initial maintenance of the Guild Hall.

The report shows the options considered by the council include:

– Battling on with operating the venue as it was and making some cuts. The report states “if this was the preferred option the mothball savings of £552,000 per year would need to be deleted from the five year forecast and added to the savings target.

The city council already has a £3.6 million savings target over the next three years, which will involve cutting up to 80 jobs.

– Sell it off completely. An open tender process would have been run to attract a bidder, or range of bidders. The city council rejected this one saying the market would not have seen a buyer for the whole Guild Hall complex come forward.

– Bring in someone else. A leisure operator would be brought in to run the venue while leaving the city council with all the maintenance costs and repairs, eating into its subsidy. There would have needed to be an interim “mothballing” of the complex.

– Limited use. The number of shows would be dramatically reduced and the number of full time staff cut in half. All staffing would be outsoured. The bar would become a bottle bar only and no catering.

The city council rejected this option as although it would save significant amounts it still wouldn’t meet the savings targets or enhance the culture and leisure offer in the city.

– Mothball. The Guild Hall would be shut and all remaining shops would be forced out of the shopping arcade. The city council would still incur costs due to insurance and paying non domestic rates.

– Demolition. The Guild Hall would have been knocked down at a cost of £3.6 million and the land become a car park.

The city council is currently finalising the transfer of the building to Rigby’s Villa Group for what is thought to be around £1 milion.

Rigby has promised to modernise the venue, bringing a more diverse range of entertainment to it, filling the arcade with new shops and start-up businesses as well as a new Italian restaurant and coffee shop.

The plan points to more of a food offering at the Guild Hall complex

The plan points to more of a food offering at the Guild Hall complex

It is thought the deal for the building is due to be completed by October with all city council staff transferred over to work for Rigby’s group.

You can see the report below, if you’re on our app click here to read it

Preston Guild Hall – Freedom of Information

What do you think of the Rigby plan for the Guild Hall? Let us know in the comments below

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