The new chief executive of the Piece Hall Trust has promised the historic building will get the opening it deserves and become the catalyst for change in the town.
Nicola Chance-Thompson took on the role of leading the £20m project following the sudden departure of Sam Mason.
Having been involved in retail and regeneration projects across the country she has high hopes for the 18th century landmark and what it will bring to the area.
“I’m really optimistic and really hopeful for Halifax and the region. This job is a dream job. It’s all the things I love doing under one roof and its my home town. I just love the opportunity and hope this place brings and the change it’s going to bring.
“I think Halifax is a great town but it’s very depressed and its like its lost its way. I’m not saying the Piece Hall will change everything but I’d like to think it’s the catalyst of change.”
Mrs Chance Thompson said the Trust talks about comparisons of ‘London having Somerset House and Halifax has the Piece Hall’, in terms of putting the town on the map.
“It’s about giving Halifax an identity that plays on the old, brings in the new and that idea of commerce and people gathering and just breathing some life into the area and improving the lives of people in the area.
“I see the Piece Hall as a celebrity and if I was an agent I would want them to have a proper entrance. I’m being extra hard and making sure how we open is the right one the Piece Hall deserves. There is a lot of hope and a lot of aspiration for this space. Because of that I want to get it right.”
The Piece Hall Trust is set to reveal an exciting programme of events with a phased opening still planned.
However, Mrs Chance Thompson said there are plans for Yorkshire Day and a festive market,
“We have got an amazing events programme. We are talking major cinematic screenings, live orchestras, concerts and something Bollywood which I have been asked to do by some of my cab drivers which we will do because I think it will be a lot of fun.
“We want to cater this for everyone.”
The project, which began in October 2014, had been scheduled for completion in the summer last year. Work on the scheme to transform the 18th century Halifax town centre market hall was said to be “nearing the final weeks” after being beset with delays at a scrutiny meeting held by Calderdale Council in January 2017.
On the delays Mrs Chance-Thompson said: “I empathise with their frustration but this is a very, very old building and in any old building projects.
“My advice is be patient. I understand it has taken a while buts its actually no longer than other regeneration projects that have happened up and down the country.
“The most important thing we can do for the Piece Hall is that we get it right. And when you want to get things right they take time and we want to have the right retailers in there, we want the right events and we want the right building.”
There will then be a process that will see the handover of the Piece Hall from the Council to The Piece Hall Trust once work is completed.
This will be followed by a 18 week period in which the new Heritage Centre, retail units, bars and restaurants will be fitted out before being ready to open to the public.
“The retailers we have worked with have been very understanding. They are in it for the vision and the long haul.
“They get the vision and this is worth waiting for. The offer in there is going to be completely unique.
“There aren’t many other places like this in the world.
“I suspect there will be a lot of retailers kicking themselves they haven’t taken advantage of this when they see it finished. It takes retailers with a lot of imagination and a lot of commitment to be involved with something like this but I believe they will really reap the rewards.”