A £650k PROPOSAL to create a new bar and bistro to serve gig-goers at Dudley Town Hall has been approved.

Dudley Council wants to refurbish facilities at the popular St James Road nightspot in a bid to stop visitors going to nearby pubs and eateries for their pre-show refreshments and boost revenue.

The plans, which will see ground floor offices converted into the bar and bistro built complete with an outside continental-style seating area, were approved by planners at the authority.

Other improvements will include enhanced toilet facilities, an extended chair and table store as well as more circulation space for visitors.

As well as boosting facilities for concert goers, the bar and bistro will be open during the day to help bring in more income for the council.

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Planning officer Richard Stevenson said: “The proposed development is considered to acceptable and would support a major town centre performance, community and arts facility, whilst not having any significant impact on amenity or highway safety.”

The controversial proposal has previously seen Conservative and Labour councillors clash over the £650,000 cost of the project.

It was first put forward by the then-Labour run council in 2019 but the plan was attacked by the Tories, who felt the cost was too high.

After gaining control of the authority, the current administration finally backed the scheme following a revised business plan.

In 2020, Cllr Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “This is an exciting development for the town hall, and for Dudley town centre.

“The existing bar at the town hall is too small, and as a result for many years people have chosen to buy pre-show or interval drinks at nearby pubs rather than at the venue.

“We need to maximise the hall’s revenue opportunities to ensure it remains a viable venue in the future, and this will help us to do that.”

Dudley Town Hall has seen many famous faces pass through its doors over the years and, coronavirus permitting, has many big names lined up for later this year including former Sex Pistols and Public Image front man John Lydon and comedian Jason Manford.

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