The dream to attract Bon Jovi and Sir Paul McCartney to perform at the Piece Hall

The bosses at the Piece Hall are setting their sights high over the coming years with dreams on having Bon Jovi and Sir Paul McCartney perform in Halifax.

The Piece Hall Trust's chief executive Nicky Chance Thompson and chair Roger Marsh have spoken on the challenges and ambitions on making the building a top international destination.

Could Bon Jovi become one of the music acts to perform at the Piece Hall in Halifax

Could Bon Jovi become one of the music acts to perform at the Piece Hall in Halifax

Run by the trust on behalf of site owners Calderdale Council, the Grade I listed building re-opened after an extensive restoration in the summer of 2017

READ MORE: Major landmark for the Piece Hall as it welcomes five million visitors

Around 5,000 people were expected to visit on the first day to explore the new independent shops, bars, restaurants and exhibitions - but over 23,000 turned up.

The Piece Hall Trust's chief executive Nicky Chance-Thompson got her first glimpse of the town's Georgian gem in 2006.

"It was sad, rundown, with few shops. It was not a place that people would really visit. It was the first building in Halifax my husband took me to see, but it was in decline - a relic."

Nevertheless, Nicky could see its potential to revive.

"It reminded me of St Mark's Square in Venice and Covent Garden in London - but without the vibrancy."

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Heritage Lottery Fund cash allowed the council to realise their vision of bringing The Piece Hall back to life as Halifax's cultural centrepiece and a catalyst of regeneration, and a trust was formed and awarded a 125-year lease with peppercorn rental terms.

"One of the first things we did was to get rid of the cobbles - the old courtyard was dark and covered in soot, and they weren't original Georgian cobbles anyway.

"It caused a bit of an uproar - it's become a local joke that you don't mention the cobbles! But after we levelled it out, it looked like a lovely European square - it was stunning.

"We wanted to fill the place with shops, bars and restaurants, put on events and become the key economic driver for Halifax."

Roger Marsh OBE later joined the trust as its chair, and his vision echoes Nicky's enthusiasm.

READ MORE: The Behind the Scenes column with The Piece Hall Trust

"We are here to make sure that this historic building is purposed for today and tomorrow. We need to retain its past while also taking it forward.

"In 10 years' time, we want Lonely Planet's guide to England to be telling people to visit The Piece Hall - it could become our Pyramids or Taj Mahal, there's nothing else like it in the world.

"Our ambitions are grand but simplistic.

"Previous attempts to regenerate it have run into sand, but we want to create an international icon that is sustainable and resilient."

The Piece Hall has numerous colonnades but just three main pillars - culture, trade and heritage.

Retail, food and drink tenants were carefully selected to ensure their aims complemented the overall ethos, and the result is a mutually supportive and creative community of traders that Nicky refers to as an 'ecosystem'.

READ MORE The story of Elder, the restaurant that's Halifax's only entry in the Good Food Guide 2020

"We had to decide what to change. We built a modern extension to give us space for restaurants and a function room - we run a restaurant, deli and an ice cream parlour, which provide us with a revenue stream. We managed to expand without interfering with the building.

"The Piece Hall hadn't been marketed for a decade - we were starting from Ground Zero. It didn't exist like this before."

It's clear that both Roger are Nicky are stunned by the scale of The Piece Hall's unprecedented success.

When Antiques Roadshow filmed in the courtyard - the first time they'd visited a building that wasn't a stately home - 20,000 people turned up, a record for the programme.

Elbow have played a gig and Kaiser Chiefs have also sold out an upcoming show - yet Roger dreams of one day attracting Bon Jovi and Sir Paul McCartney to Halifax.

SEE MORE: Check out these pictures from Elbow's amazing gig at Halifax's Piece Hall

Tim Burgess even approached the trust to ask about playing the venue with The Charlatans.

"We appeal to so many audiences. With our street food festivals, like Chow Down, we appeal to the Leeds and Manchester crowd, and with the Gentleman Jack connection we have fans of the series coming," says Nicky.

Last year The Piece Hall received more visitors than the Tower of London and was the second most Googled attraction in Yorkshire, beaten only by York Minster.

"People are very proud of The Piece Hall and they deserved better - it needed to shine. It's now a question of how big we can go. They have taken their Piece Hall back.

"There was a sense of excitement when we re-opened, and renewed hope that things were on the up. It's a revolution here, not evolution."

"It is becoming the Covent Garden of the north. We have award-winning stores - the bookshop, the record shop. It's experiential shopping and there are things here that you can't find anywhere else. Elder is in the Good Food Guide now (Halifax's first entry)," says Roger.

"We made some difficult decisions, and it was hard to find the right people. We asked them to open seven days a week and work long hours and to be sustainable during tough retail times. But they have responded to us and have created the environment we wanted - they keep The Piece Hall interesting. People come here for events but come back because of the shops," adds Nicky.

Roger describes The Piece Hall's courtyard as 'a big piece of outside' and it will come to the fore even more over the next few years.

They hope to bring an ice rink for Christmas and eventually launch hot air balloons from the square - in tribute to a 19th-century balloon show that was witnessed by Anne Lister, Gentleman Jack herself.

A popular sculpture trail designed in collaboration with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park returns this winter after attracting 400,000 visitors last year, and the Tour de Yorkshire race is back next May. Future outdoor concerts will include classical, opera and electronic music.

"We want to become a big ticket attraction within the context of Yorkshire. Half of Yorkshire still hasn't heard of The Piece Hall," adds Roger.

"Halifax can now stand as tall as the cities around it. We've not got going yet!"