Preston’s Guild Hall is to be sold to local businessman and millionaire investor Simon Rigby.Advertisement
The Rigby proposal for the city centre venue has been recommended for approval by council officers.
In a deal worth more than £1 million Rigby and his partners will acquire the leasehold and current assets of the building.
It was tabled in September last year by Rigby and a consortium who say they want to restore the Guild Hall as a premier events venue for the city.
Preston City Council’s cabinet will meet on Friday to rubber-stamp the proposal, which has the full support of the council leader.
Councillor Peter Rankin says for the council to continue to run the building would be unsustainable in light of its financial situation.
He said: “Simon has put forward exciting and ambitious proposals for the Guild Hall. He has real vision and passion for the Guild Hall and clearly sees great potential in it. As well as a new restaurant, banqueting and conference facilities, Simon is to improve entertainment at the Guild Hall with a potential tie-up with the Lowry. Simon also wants to set up a trust fund to support the culture and arts in Preston, along with supporting community use and events at the Guild Hall.
“As a Council we have to save over £3.6m over the next three years and without Simon’s intervention we would have had no choice but to close the Guild Hall. It currently costs us £1m a year to run and the building is in need of significant investment, which the Council simply has not got.
“We’ve worked hard over the last few months to deliver a bright future for the Guild Hall and I am sure the council will agree with the recommendation to sell the Guild Hall to Simon, and look forward to working with him to deliver a fantastic future for entertainment, culture and arts in Preston.”
The city council agreed to continue a £500,000 subsidisation of the venue until May 2015 but had not agreed to support beyond this date.
A council report indicates selling the building would save the council more than £650,000 a year in running costs.
The Rigby proposal includes plans for restaurants and business units as well as a new entertainment line-up.
Watch a video below showing an animated look at what the new look Guild Hall could look like, if you’re on our app click here to watch
Guild Hall Animation (3 Star, 1080).mp4 from media on Vimeo.
Rigby, who attempted to buy Preston Bus Station in 2013 for £1, said: “Preston Guild Hall is a wonderful opportunity and I am thrilled the Council is set to accept my offer.
“The building oozes potential. It’s a rough diamond that needs some polishing, but with love, care and attention it will truly sparkle as Lancashire’s premier entertainment venue. My ‘Villa’ range of businesses is highly successful and we aim to make the Guild Hall the jewel in our crown.
“Obviously, we need to invest in the building and that is exactly what we will do with over £1 million of immediate investment into the Guild Hall. This will transform the Guild Hall into a fabulous live entertainment venue for Preston, which will include community use of the building.
“We are flexible and we will see to it that nobody with clear budget issues for putting on a community event at the Guild Hall is turned away. I’m also setting up a trust fund to support arts and culture in Preston so that the Guild Hall can become a real cultural and entertainment hub for the city.
“I’m also keen to support the creation of new businesses in Preston and my vision for the Guild Hall includes providing shops for start-up businesses as well as access to mentoring and business support from my expert team.
“All in all, this is a great deal for Preston and I can’t wait to get going and breathe new life into the Guild Hall.”
Once rubber-stamped at cabinet on Friday the negotiations to transfer the building into Rigby’s hands would be complete by October this year.
The news follows the announcement in June that 53 Degrees after Christmas will no longer be booking large-scale public shows, leaving the Guild Hall as the only large-capacity venue in the city.
Now read: What does Simon Rigby have planned for the Guild Hall?
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