An ambitious project to bring a historical home back into use has moved another huge step forward.

Bolton council and Banana Enterprise Network have been given permission to start the Rock Hall Revival project “development phase” by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This comes after it was announced in September that the fund awarded a development grant of £466,662 which will contribute to the £725,000 raised for the phase.

This is the first of two stages for the £4m project.

Banana Enterprises CEO Jayne Allman said: “We are thrilled to have received permission to start the project.

“We have been working towards this day for four years!

"We are so very grateful to everyone who supports us and our wonderful project to save, restore and expand Rock Hall on behalf of the community.

“We sincerely thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund for giving us permission to start this next stage of our project, which gives Rock Hall the lifeline it deserves. 

“We have received lots of support from our professional networks, and we would like to thank them for their continued support.”

The Bolton News: The Rock Hall buildingThe Rock Hall building (Image: Banana Enterprise Network)The development phase of the project is expected to be completed by March next year.

It will include free community heritage activities for all ages, that are fun as well as educational, to encourage more people to get involved in their local heritage.

Some of the activities will enhance the natural environment of Moses Gate Country Park too.

The phase will also include undertaking some urgent repair work on the hall, further design work and public consultation, leading to the preparation of final architectural plans for the full restoration and expansion of the site.

This will enable planning consent to be granted.

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The funding is also going to pay for legal and planning application fees leading up to the acquisition of the building by Banana Enterprise from the council via a community asset transfer (CAT).

In addition, Banana Enterprise will be expanding its capacity by using some of the funding to commission specialist consultants and partners who will be appointed to help manage the project.

For example, a project manager with heritage experience will be appointed to work on the project.

Helen Featherstone, director of England North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are thrilled to support Bolton Council and Banana Enterprise Network with this initial grant to work towards the restoration of Rock Hall.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project will celebrate and preserve our industrial heritage while ensuring there is a commercially sustainable future for the Grade II listed hall."

The Bolton News: Plans for Rock HallPlans for Rock Hall (Image: Banana Enterprise Network)Cllr Nadeem Ayub, the council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “I’m delighted that the time has finally come to start work on Rock Hall and give this much-loved cultural asset back to the community.

“Not only will the venue be brought back to its former glory, but there will be a full programme of activities taking place for local people.

“The Rock Hall development is a key contribution to the town’s cultural strategy and the vision to regenerate the town.”

Rock Hall was built in 1807 by the Crompton family of papermakers. TB Crompton was a pioneer and developed a unique paper drying process, which he patented.

This project is “pioneering” in the local area because it will be the first time that a disused historic building has been the subject of a CAT process.

The hall, which is owned by the council, closed in 2014 and has been unused since then.

Further details about how the community can get involved in the project and book onto the various free events and activities will be advertised as soon as possible.

The charity has a Rock Hall project specific website at and a dedicated Facebook page called Save Rock Hall

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