WORK to transform a town hall into a thriving cultural hub will begin this autumn.

Durham County Council is investing £1.5m into refurbishing Bishop Auckland Town Hall, in an effort to improve its layout and facilities.

To allow the work to take place, the market place venue will close from Saturday, August 31, until next Spring.

Other meeting places have been secured for groups that meet in the hall and arrangements have been made to ensure residents can access library services during the closure.

Improvements will include the creation of a new café, bar and contemporary art gallery space on the ground floor, as well as enhanced library facilities.

The auditorium will also be revamped to include more comfortable seating, and the cinema will become fully digitised, allowing popular blockbusters to be shown as well as live screenings, theatrical productions, comedy nights and lectures.

The new gallery space will provide a focal point for works by artist Tom McGuinness and will also provide a permanent home for the Durham Miners’ Gala mural by Norman Cornish, which is on display in County Hall.

Councillor Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “By improving facilities and staging a wider variety of events, the new look Bishop Auckland Town Hall will provide enriching and inspirational experiences for local people of all ages.

“It will also attract people from outside of the area, boosting the profits of the venue and other town centre businesses, and complementing events such as Kynren and the multi-million-pound conservation of Auckland Castle.

“We would like to thank Bishop Auckland residents and businesses for their patience while the work takes place. We would also like to express our gratitude to The Auckland Project for allowing us to set up a pop-up library at No.42.”

Library facilities at No.42 will be open from Wednesday, September 4.

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