Geof Keys, artistic director at Hexham's Queens Hall. *Photo: HX2017114.
DETAILS of a six-figure investment to transform the Queen’s Hall in Hexham into a hub for council services have been made public.
Proposals for the long-mooted project are contained within a planning application seeking listed building consent to add glass customer service pods into the ground floor library space.
A replacement staircase leading to a newly-redecorated mezzanine level will open up to office space, accessed via a secure key fob entry system, and secured with new balustrades.
The scheme, drawn up by Newcastle-based Xsite Architecture on behalf of the county council, also includes raising the library floor level and a new glass entrance lobby.
The application proposes refurbishment of ground floor toilets, adjacent to the 350-seat theatre, lift refurbishments, roof repairs, new lighting and general redecoration.
The space, which also became home to the town’s scaled-down tourist information service last year, would be used by the council’s customer service staff and other visiting officers.
The Queen’s Hall Arts board of trustees, which has an 80-year lease for the 19th century building, has been in negotiations with the county council for several years over its future.
Artistic director of the Queen’s Hall, Geof Keys, said he hoped disruption would be kept to a minimum during the work.
“This, as it stands, is not a huge project,” he explained.
“We have been talking about this for the last two years or so and, most people will be aware, it was originally part of a much bigger vision.”
Around £1.3m had originally been earmarked by the county council to provide a rear extension for office space and upgrade the Grade II listed building.
But the figure was dramatically scaled back to around £430,000 earlier this year as discussions over the proposals reached their final stages.
“Like many things, because staffing levels have reduced and budgets are tight, the plans have been scaled down, but this is still a significant investment in Hexham and something we very much welcome,” Geof added.