PLANS to refurbish Blackburn town hall and repair the roof at Darwen town hall will require an extra £1 million in funding.

The current estimated total costs for the phased refurbishment works for Blackburn town hall are £2,700,000 excluding furniture, IT infrastructure upgrades and council chamber audio visual system - an increase of £250,000.

Estimated furniture replacement costs are £450,000, though it is considered possible that some furniture from the town hall and tower block which is in very good condition and is fit for purpose could be re-used as part of the new design and to reduce costs.

These costs were not included in the executive board report of January 2019.

Essential IT infrastructure upgrade costs are estimated to be £220,000 and it is requested that this be funded from the council’s corporate ICT earmarked scheme in the approved capital programme.

Darwen town hall roof renewal and associated essential weather-proofing works are estimated at £300,000.

Executive member for finance and governance, Cllr Andy Kay, said: "The earlier executive board report in February 2018 requested subsequent approval at finance

council of capital programme costs estimated at £6.5M for the significant refurbishment of Blackburn and Darwen town halls.

"The executive board report in January 2019 proposed to scale back the levels of refurbishment, in line with the council’s ongoing budget constraints.

"Further detailed investigations have since taken place in respect of Blackburn town hall, which have resulted in more detailed estimated costs for the proposed scaled back refurbishment works.

"These costs are more than the current capital programme scheme costs for the overall building refurbishment.

"There is currently an over-supply of staff office accommodation.

"The risk of not taking action at this juncture is to continue to carry considerable additional costs of empty staff accommodation.

"Equally there are significant backlog and future maintenance cost liabilities particularly in respect of the tower block.

"Modernisation of Blackburn Town Hall, would increase capacity, improve service provision and reduce operational and backlog maintenance costs.

"Darwen town hall’s roof renewal and associated work is essential to ensure the building remains water tight.

And the future of Blackburn’s iconic tower block is still under consideration.

Earlier this year, council bosses approved a multi-million scheme to refurbish the top two floors of Blackburn town hall, which will allow all staff to be relocated out of the tower block.

Senior figures are yet to decide on a future for the building, with two options under consideration.

Once the refurbishment works to Blackburn town hall are complete, staff will be relocated from the tower block into the town hall or other core buildings.

Cllr Kay added: “The first option would be to mothball the facility which will still require heating and ventilation plant to be kept operational and empty business rate charges would apply.

“The second option would be for the council to no longer have any responsibility for the building.

“As reported previously this second option requires detailed discussions and negotiations with the Mall, who are the council’s landlord, although the council is the ultimate freeholder of the tower block building.

“A separate executive board report will be presented at a future date to fully consider the options available to the council in relation to the tower block.”