Worden Hall: more details about the refurbishment of the Leyland landmark - including the cost

Worden Hall has been closed to the public since 2012
Worden Hall has been closed to the public since 2012

The planned refurbishment of Worden Hall in Leyland is set to begin this summer after detailed designs for the project were finalised.

South Ribble Borough Council has set aside £2.1m to revamp and reopen the Grade II-listed building - almost eight years after it was closed to the public.

If the cash is confirmed when the authority sets its budget later this month and a forthcoming planning application is successful, work to create a combined community and events venue on the site could begin within months.

Papers presented to a cabinet meeting where final approval was given for the project revealed more about the planned new layout of the eighteenth century hall.

The existing cafe on the site will be moved from its current location in the stables area of the building to a larger base on the ground floor of the Derby wing. It may also be able to expand into the glass house on a seasonal basis.

The vacated stables and hayloft will be converted into a bar and “green room”, while the former Marsden theatre - which has a seated capacity of 100 people - is confirmed as the location for weddings and events.

Other features include the creation of a commercial quarter and festival court, plus space for the existing craft units and three leased offices or workspaces.

Cabinet member for finance Matthew Tomlinson said that the project represented the first significant investment in Worden Hall in the 20 years since the installation of the now derelict conservatory, which will be demolished under the plans.

“We’re now playing catch-up. You can own a Grade II-listed building in an iconic park and ignore it for as long as you like, but eventually you have to spend the money to keep it useable,” Cllr Tomlinson said.

But Conservative opposition member Alan Ogilvie warned that the business case for the development was “not the most robust” he had ever seen.

“If you’re proposing to keep the high quality, high-spec wedding venue, then probably in five years’ time, we’re going to have to do a fairly major refurbishment of the function room.

“You’re not going to get much done for the £30,000 [expected revenue generated in that time],” Cllr Ogilvie said.

But council leader Paul Foster said that the hall would be added to the council’s routine maintenance programme.

Cllr Tomlinson added that the revenue forecasts were “conservative”.

The plans were drawn up after South Ribble residents were asked what future they would like to see for the iconic building - with options for a community space, small events facility or high-end wedding venue.

Consultation results indicated that a hybrid community and events space would be the most popular outcome. Initially, both of those individual options were forecast to yield an ongoing annual cost to the council, but are now expected to generate a modest surplus after two years of operation.