Manchester City Council Town Hall complex transformation programme

A new chapter for Manchester

By refurbishing Manchester Central Library, extending the Town Hall and making improvements to the public realm spaces around the complex, we have helped to create opportunities for local businesses and the wider community.

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Manchester City Council Town Hall complex transformation programme Project summary


Manchester City Council

Project value


Services provided

Project and programme management, Consult


Public buildings and estates


UK and Europe, UK North

Project timeline

Start date
January 2009
End date
October 2015

Project story

With two Grade II listed buildings lacking the love they deserved, we worked with Manchester City Council to bring them back to life and craft a modern community hub in the heart of the city. We helped secure approval and manage the specialist conservation and restoration works, manage costs and provide programme and project management, communication and change management, workplace planning and coordinated the work of 13 separate design consultancy appointments.

The central library has been completely transformed with 70% now accessible to the public, showcasing more than one million items, up from 30% prior to the refurbishment. Its historic features have also been carefully restored and its carbon footprint dramatically decreased. Managing costs on this publically funded project was a key driver to the council and we delivered on time and to budget.

Project stats

50% of construction spend was awarded to suppliers based in Manchester
70% increase to public areas of the library
66 apprenticeships created

Points of note

One of the largest asbestos removal projects in England

We safely removed 1,560 square metres of asbestos from the library’s dome ceiling - requiring 12 miles of scaffolding.

Careful handling

The restoration and relocation of Manchester’s war memorial was the final part of phase one. We moved the Cenotaph from its position in St Peter's Square to a new location alongside the town hall to provide a dedicated and dignified space for Remembrance Day ceremonies.


We used a sustainable construction plan to ensure carbon reduction and efficient waste and water management, leading to a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating for both the library and the town hall extension. We also restored and reused 400 out of 600 hardwood doors and recast the bronze window frames and lead roofing.

Wall to wall books

More than one million items covering 35 miles of shelving were moved to storage facilities across the region, including relocating the most fragile and valuable items to a high-security location.

Community work

More than 100 volunteers supported community events such as a summer school, careers talks, and interview practice, reaching over 1,000 young people. In addition, 55 one-week work placements were provided for school and college students and young people.


The Manchester town hall extension won ‘Best Refurbished Workspace – North of England, North Wales and Northern Ireland’ in the British Council Offices 2014 awards.