New performance space to be built in Oldham's old Post Office

Reporter: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
Date published: 22 November 2021

Town hall chiefs have agreed to appoint a design team to create a new venue for the Oldham Coliseum in Grade Two listed buildings in the town centre.

At a cabinet meeting this week, leaders agreed to appoint an architect-led team which will develop the detailed plans for a new ‘flexible’ performance space in the town’s ‘cultural quarter’.

This will be based within a redeveloped Old Post Office and former Quaker Meeting House at 84 Union Street, and aspires to be a ‘net-zero carbon enterprise’.

The project is being primarily funded by £6.13m from the £24.4m cash windfall the council received from the government’s Towns Fund.

However the remainder of the costs is being provided by ‘council resources and match funding’, according to cabinet documents.

Bosses say it will provide a venue for local arts and culture providers, including the Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Original plans, first laid out under then council leader Jim McMahon to move the Oldham Coliseum theatre into a state-of-the-art purpose built new venue which would have cost £27m were shelved in 2018.

The council says the new proposed performance space will expand the existing performing arts offer in terms of scope, scale and quality and increase provision for participatory activities.

Chiefs say it will play a ‘significant role in post-Covid-19 recovery’ and they hope it will serve an audience across Oldham, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

The ‘multi-disciplinary’ design team – the identity of which is currently restricted – will need to progress the plans in order to have them ready for a full business case submission to the Towns Fund in May 2022.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, council leader Arooj Shah said it was an ‘important next step’ in preparing for a planning application.

Coun Shaid Mushtaq, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Effectively the current Coliseum will be moving into that space and hopefully will be the main performance space for Oldham.

“We all have a role to play in increasing and improving the perception of the cultural offer in Oldham and I think a space like this is a really important because it sends out the right message that we are serious about culture.”

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