Hoylake’s Victorian town hall is to be become the Beacon Arts Village and will feature a cinema, restaurant, bar and café bistro and will offer studio space for artists. Tony McDonough reports
Work has started on the first phase of the multi-million pound transformation of a former Wirral town hall into a new arts and leisure complex.
Hoylake’s Victorian civic building is to be become the Beacon Arts Village and will feature a two-screen cinema, a fine dining restaurant, bar and café bistro, as well as 18 creative studio and retail spaces for artists and makers around a central courtyard.
Developer and site owner is Wirral-based Hylgar Properties who, with local group Hoylake Village Life CIC, successfully bid for £3.64m of Coastal Communities Fund. Subsequent phases will see the upper floors converted into 40 apartments using private funding.
Main contractor and project managers for phase one is Hamilton Oakmont, specialists in both new construction and conversions of existing buildings. Construction consultant is Brian Corfe, managing partner of BIAC Consultants and a former managing director of Balfour Beatty. Architects for the project are Liverpool-based Falconer Chester Hall.
The first phase works includes internal and external demolitions and construction, including new roofing. The ground floor is to consist of the restaurant and bar, a new build kitchen and a newly-formed covered courtyard space with kitchen space.
The first floor will comprise a two-screen cinema, with acoustic installation, a newly-constructed toilet block and refurbished creative industry office/studio spaces. The exterior of the building is to be retained and cleaned.
Negotiations with a cinema operator and food and beverage operators are on-going. The project will create more than 140 jobs during design, construction and operation, and is set to open to the public by the end of 2020.
David Burke of Hylgar Properties, said: “We have brought together a very strong and experienced team. Hamilton Oakmont is a company well known for sensitive building conversions.
“Given the historical nature of the buildings, all works carried out will be sympathetic to the existing design, with full support from the local conservation officer. We will also be working with an interior design company to ensure that, where possible, existing historical features will be retained.”
The building, first opened for use in 1898, was recently the home to the monthly ‘pop-up’ Hoylake Community Cinema, as well as a number of small creative enterprises, including BAFTA award-winning film production company, Mad as Birds, which will retain its base in the building.
Mark Howard, Hoylake Village Life volunteer and founder of the community cinema, added: “This is an important milestone for us, not only in terms of the five years we have been working on this vision, but also for Hoylake as a town. We believe it’s a development that Hoylake needs and it has been widely supported locally.
Phase two of the project is planned by spring 2020 when the building will be fitted out. The tenant mix for the creative units is to be managed by Hoylake-based international artist Terry Duffy, Chair of the British Art and Design Association.