Preston Guild Hall set to entertain new owners

An investment of over £1m is set to breathe new life into Preston Guild Hall as a live music and entertainment venue.

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Council bosses in Preston are recommending the sale of the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre complex to local businessman, Simon Rigby who runs a range of  catering and entertainment businesses including The Villa hotel at Wrea Green.

The investment will see an improved range of live shows and entertainment on offer at the Guild Hall.  A new Italian restaurant, banqueting and conference facilities, a coffee shop as well as a hub for new start-up businesses, are all part of proposals for the Guild Hall.

Simon Rigby 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.”

The proposal to sell Preston Guild Hall to Simon  is to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on Friday 5 July and should the Council accept the recommendation, work will begin on finalising the transfer of the building to him.  It is likely that the sale of the Guild Hall will be completed by October 2014.

Welcoming these proposals for Preston Guild Hall, Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, 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.”

To find out more about the proposals for Preston Guild Hall, click here.