Historic Piece Hall can be a global attraction

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Let’s make our historic Piece Hall a global attraction.

That’s the message from Calderdale Council and the Piece Hall Trust as it was revealed hundreds of businesses are queuing up to get their spot in the iconic building.

As the £19m transformation of the Piece Hall enters its final stages, the Leader of Calderdale Council, councillor Tim Swift and Sam Mason, chief executive of the trust, say the Georgian building will have the potential to be a global attraction for Halifax and Calderdale.

“We’re doing this because it’s a chance for something really special, something that is really going to put Halifax and Calderdale on the map,” Coun Tim Swift said.

“I think people will be surprised by the impact of this when it happens and the scale of what it will bring in to Calderdale.

“That’s why the council is investing in it in the way we are and that is why it is so important that we get it right.

“Halifax feels an incredible ownership of the Piece Hall and people from across Europe, and the world, should be coming.”

At the heart of the major project, which began January 2014, is the belief that the Piece Hall regeneration will stand as a ‘beacon’ for visitors to explore what the borough has to offer.

Mr Mason said: “The Piece Hall isn’t just about the square, it’s a catalyst for all the other attractions and businesses. We’ll be linked through to Square Chapel, we’ll point people through to the Borough Market, we’ll point people to Eureka.

“It is going to be a massive economic catalyst - you have to have a big catalyst in the middle which will then spread out to the rest of Calderdale.”

There has already been an outpouring of interest from businesses hoping to fill the retail units and it’s hoped all will be fully let by February.

Mr Mason added: “We have had massive response, with more than 500 expressions of interest on units and they are still coming in. We then have to filter down, because we are trying to get a programme of independent retailers who complement each other.

“We are very confident on the retail and cafe units, in that we have more interest than units which is brilliant, with a lot of businesses from around Halifax, Calderdale and the wider Yorkshire area. We would love them to to be local or regional businesses - we are not doing chains and they all have to be independents.

“What we want, when people come to visit from London, America or wherever, is that they are getting a real taste of Halifax, a real taste of Calderdale and a real taste of Yorkshire, rather than something they could get anywhere in the country or the world.”

Announcements on retailers will be made in the coming weeks - with the first three or four all hailing from the region.

Delays in the Piece Hall transformation were confirmed last week by Calderdale Council, but plans for a phased opening, beginning before Christmas, were revealed to the Halifax Courier.

The first phase, scheduled to be completed by late November/early December, will give people a chance to preview the Piece Hall and see heritage work which tells the ‘Piece Hall’ story.

The route through the building, to the new £9.5m Central Library and Archive, should also be complete and open before Christmas but Coun Swift said the library will not be open its doors until the route through the Piece Hall is available.

Plans for a Christmas event in the Piece Hall are also in the pipeline.

The second phase, in February, will see the opening of the restaurant and retail units, including shops, bars and cafes and the third phase, the ‘grand opening’, kicking of the building’s main programme of events, is scheduled for Easter.