Plans approved for the £3.5 million expansion of Band on the Wall

Photo: Plans approved for the £3.5 million expansion of Band on the Wall

Inner City Music Limited, the charity that owns and operates Manchester’s multiple award-winning Band on the Wall, has announced Manchester City Council has approved plans for the expansion of the historic venue, including bringing the derelict Cocozza building, at the rear of the existing Band on the Wall, back to life.

Gavin Sharp, CEO, Inner City Music said: “There has been a music venue operating at Band on the Wall for over a century, and we want to make sure it will be here for at least another 100 years. Bringing the Cocozza building into our footprint means we can significantly increase the main venue capacity, expand and upgrade our learning facilities and create a second smaller, intimate venue on-site which will have a capacity of 80.

“Together with our learning and participation partners we will be able to nurture many more emerging local and international artists, help develop new talent with our expanded facilities, and foster learning in the new education and archive spaces being created on the top floor. I am delighted our plans have received planning consent from Manchester City Council.”

Designed by Manchester-based OMI Architects and managed by specialist project managers Buro Four, the plans see the main venue capacity increase from 350 to 500 for headline artists and performances. The Picturehouse Bar will be re-modelled with the external terrace space increased and a new commercial kitchen installed.

The planned learning complex will include a rooftop A/V suite, allowing young people and education participants to create new digital work by engaging with international touring artists.

The new learning spaces will be home to Band on the Wall’s improved archive facilities, enabling the organisation to better catalogue its rich library of historical content. Selected archive materials will continue to be exhibited in the Picturehouse Bar.

The Cocozza building is one of only a few remaining structures from the days of the Victorian Smithfield Market. Inner City Music is in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of the building and, subject to funding, the building façade will be saved and fully restored.

Gavin Sharp said: “We respect and embrace the need to maintain and enhance the heritage of Band on the Wall. The Cocozza building is of historical significance to the Smithfield area of the Northern Quarter.

“Our scheme meets the aspirations for additional music and education spaces to provide our audiences with a diverse music-based offering from internationally-renowned artists, but with respect for our local heritage and the history of our area and roots.”

The inclusion of the Cocozza building creates a new opportunities along Foundry Street and it is planned to install digital artworks in place of venue windows. These changing displays will provide a canvas for artists to tell the story of not just Band on the Wall, but the surrounding area.

Dave McCall, Director, OMI Architects, said: “OMI has a strong track record of designing within sensitive contexts and bringing disused buildings back to life. Projects like this demonstrate how formerly significant buildings which contributed to the growth, character and history of an area, such as the Northern Quarter, can be creatively reused to meet the future demands of the City.

“Band on the Wall has been a cornerstone of Manchester’s music and cultural landscape for over a century and it is exciting to have developed proposals which will further enhance its offer to Manchester as well as continue to build upon its standing as a leading music and education venue in the North West.  Having looked at what the rest of Europe has to offer, we believe the expanded Band on the Wall will provide a truly unique platform for music in Manchester.”

The envisaged cost of the expansion is approximately £3.5 million and securing planning permission is just one of several important steps to make before the project will come to fruition, including securing second-stage funding from Arts Council England.

Gavin Sharp said: “While we have a long way to go to secure the extension of Band on the Wall, gaining planning permission and submitting our bid for further Arts Council England funding is very important milestone.

”Now is the right time to extend Band on the Wall. There is a huge amount of development taking place in our neighbourhood – such as NOMA, Angel Meadows, Northern Gateway, New Cross and Ancoats. With the rapid growth of Manchester City Centre we want to be able to continue to bring exceptional, international artists to our growing audience.”

In addition to OMI Architects and Buro Four, the project team includes cost consultants Simon Fenton Partnership; structural engineer DP2 and building services engineer Progressive Services Design.

Band on the Wall has championed and celebrated the value of diverse music for the best part of a century. It is a living music library and allows people to access, enjoy and participate in the best music of many cultures in a stimulating and social environment.

This news was published by Insider.