Agenda item

Remobilisation of City Hall

   Report of the Chief Executive



Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Climate Change, MCI, Economic Development, Heritage, Arts, Tourism and Health & Wellbeing presented a report which provided options and recommendations for the remobilisation of Salisbury City Hall as an arts, entertainment and cultural venue.


The Leader detailed the timelines for City Hall over the last few years, in particular, following Government direction on 20 March 2020, City Hall was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in October 2020 Cabinet confirmed that the venue would remain mothballed until it was both financially viable and safe to reopen, in December 2020, City Hall was licenced to the NHS to be used as a Vaccination Centre, and the NHS have confirmed the venue will continue to be required as a vaccination centre until March 2023.


Cabinet noted that the council has applied to the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 seeking a substantial capital grant to deliver strategic improvements to Salisbury’s Cultural offer, including improvement works to both City Hall and
Salisbury Playhouse. If the bid is successful, the council and relevant
partners will commit to contribute ‘match’ funding which will amount to over
10% of the grant award and would be subject to a capital funding bid. Works would be scheduled to commence in October of 2023 and to be complete in January 2025.


Cllr Jerry Kunkler, Chair of the Environment Select Committee confirmed that he and Cllr Bob Jones, Vice Chairman of the Environment Select Committee, received a briefing on this report on 4 October 2022. They welcome and endorsed the report following consideration of the options presented and with the commitment to address some of the building’s structural issues. They noted that City Hall could be an important addition to Salisbury’s visitor and night-time economy.


Cllr Tony Jackson commented on the capital grant and queried if there was such an opportunity for Warminster to bid for a similar grant. The Leader reminded the meeting that the Council has applied to the Government for the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 capital grant in line with the approved bidding process.


Cabinet noted that a pre-pandemic staffing structure was attached as a Part II appendix and was considered at agenda item 15, with the press and public excluded.




1.    There are three options available to Wiltshire Council in order to remobilise City Hall:





Source a third-party organisation to operate City Hall as an entertainment venue on behalf of Wiltshire Council


Wiltshire Council to manage and operate City Hall internally, using same model as prior to the venues closure in 2020


Sell/Asset transfer venue to a suitable external organisation for us an entertainment venue


2.    A key element of the 2020 Cabinet paper was that remobilisation should be undertaken when it was ‘financially viable’ to do so. Option 1 is the most likely to provide long-term financial sustainability in order for the venue to thrive in a manner that the other options may not.


3.    It is recommended that Option 1 be agreed, and Wiltshire Council seek to source an external organisation to operate the venue.


4.    It is recommended that future decisions relating to the remobilisation of City Hall are delegated to the Corporate Director Place in consultation with the Leader of the Council.


Reason for Decision:


Option 1 could:


·       retain an arts, entertainment, community, and cultural venue in Salisbury.

·       potentially reduce the financial burden on the council as a third-party organisation will be asked to take on the running costs and operating risk.

·       potentially retain a level of control over venue programming to include a community element. 


Supporting documents: