We (Falkirk Council) have conducted a review of our property assets and wish to assess our options for the delivery of a replacement Falkirk Town Hall (FTH) project. The existing FTH, on West Bridge Street, has reached the end of its useful life and will close in February 2023.
We wish to ensure that this 21st century town hall, which will combine cultural, business and civic functions, is operationally fit-for-purpose and maximises regeneration benefits for Falkirk town centre and the wider area.
We are seeking to identify a suitable site available for such a development and are requesting that site owners confirm if they are interested in selling their land (or properties) to us, to facilitate the initial strand of the regeneration of the Falkirk Town Centre.
We are conducting this "call for sites" to assess the reaction of the market to its proposed requirement for a single new build facility and to allow owners to submit details of their sites, if they can accommodate our requirements, as outlined below.
This exercise will allow the Council to undertake a high-level feasibility, capability and capacity analysis of each site (property) brought forward and these assessments will assist in recommending a preferred site to the Council meeting in April 2023.
Responses by interested parties are requested by 03 February 2023. See Owners submissions for more information.
This is not a call for developers, or design teams, and the procurement / acquisition mechanism for the Project will be dealt with separately, at a later date.
Site search area
The site search area, within Falkirk town centre, is highlighted on the map below and identifies the intended location within which sites are to be considered.
The following is a note of requirements for the replacement town hall project and the various elements.
Positioning, purpose, and site requirements
The new Town Hall will be a flagship venue for the area. It should be a building of significant and identifiable design, visible within the Town Centre and a welcoming beacon.
The new building will provide a variety of accommodation for the Council's cultural, business, and democratic functions and will underpin the regeneration and repurposing of the town centre by providing a gathering space in the very heart of the town. Through the provision of flexible accommodation for several different Council Services, the Town Hall will provide a platform for the Council to adopt new ways of service delivery and for the Falkirk community, businesses, community planning partners to access a truly inspiring facility.
A prominent frontage location is desired, and the building should create a high quality solution reflective of the Council’s aspirations for the area by demonstrating a strong visual presence where the public can gather, access services, attend a show or book a space for their own activities.
Road and pedestrian connectivity through the town, and the ability to link with existing public transport networks will be key, as will the ability to support the Council’s low carbon aspirations.
The overall approach to design and requirements is as follows:
- Engender civic pride and to complement the urban design ethos in Falkirk town centre
- Provide inclusive and inviting spaces where building users are enticed into the building from the street and are not daunted by its presence
- Users can easily navigate their way around the building
- To provide a healthy building where the space, temperature, natural light, heat and humidity of the internal environment will be such that they are conducive to, and support, effective working conditions for staff and building users
- To incorporate as many renewable and environmentally sound construction methods to reduce the building’s carbon footprint from both a running and life cycle basis, and to contribute towards meeting climate change targets
- Offers a range of vibrant, functional and flexible spaces that suits the requirements and can be adapted and evolved over time as requirements change
- Parking should be near to the building (ensuring ease of access for patrons), fully accessible to patrons with disabilities and well lit at night. Dedicated wheelchair accessible parking spaces should be nearby or at the facility.
- A drop off / pick up point close to the Main Entrance with suitable wheelchair access should be accommodated.
It is envisaged that a site of approximately 6000m2 is required, but the site area requirements will vary depending on topography, design and access arrangements.
Theatre space / Auditorium
FTH (Falkirk Town Hall) currently curates a programme of professional touring theatre, music, dance, comedy, and family entertainment as well as supporting productions by local voluntary sector arts groups and dance schools. It also facilitates conferences, seminars, meetings and events and hosts exhibitions of the work of local amateur artists and arts groups. The new facility will continue to deliver what the existing facility provides and so much more by providing state of the art facilities that can attract bigger productions by having adequate stage, rehearsal and back room facilities.
Size / Capacity
The auditorium/theatre space must be of a size with a minimum seating capacity of 550 and be able to meet the following needs:
- accommodate a diverse professional programme of drama, musical theatre, comedy music and dance including performances by leading Scottish and UK companies/performers
- accommodate medium to large scale (in terms of number of cast as well as potential audience) amateur productions such as local operatic societies, musical theatre companies:
- children / youth theatre productions
- dance school displays
- drama, dance or music group performances, etc
- attract professional promoters seeking to hire the venue for performances (bands, comedy, music concerts, etc) who base suitability of a venue on potential income from the number of seats available as well as quality, profile, etc.
On the basis of above, we propose the following:
- An auditorium on two or three levels (stalls, circle and gallery) capable of seating 550 people on comfortable tiered seating
- A stage area of just under 200 m2, the stage dimensions also to include an orchestra pit.
- Sight lines should be that the audience must be able to hear and see the whole performance on the stage.
- Seating must have sufficient row spacing and appropriate gangways to always ensure comfort and safety.
- The auditorium must be fully accessible from a number of levels.
- Appropriate spaces and access for wheelchairs and their companions.
- Lighting and AV control room facing into the auditorium from the rear. The Control room should have a full/complete and uninterrupted view of the stage/ performance area.
- The auditorium will also include space for a sound mixing desk and follow spots positions
- Acoustically the auditorium must be suitable for voice and music with and without amplification
- Appropriate sound proofing throughout.
- No windows, with the ability to create complete blackout.
On the basis of above we propose the following.
Stage / Performance space
The performance space should be flexible enough to accommodate a range of styles and sizes of performance including (but not limited to) set and non-set specific theatre, dance, classical music, (recital and orchestral) popular music, stand-up comedy, touring and in house productions (eg Falkirk Youth Theatre).
As such, stage/ performance space requirements are:
- A flat open stage with no fixed proscenium arch but with the ability to fly a temporary proscenium when required.
- Minimum stage width of 20m and a depth of 10m, with access from both sides of the stage and crossover behind the stage.
- Full height fly tower with counterweighted flying system and fly floors with emergency exits.
- Storage at stage level and must allow for a grand piano.
- Dock door of a minimum of 3m wide by 3.3m high and adequate space for an HGV vehicle of maximum 13.6m length to turn and access the Dock door for loading/ unloading. Secure parking for up to 2 HGV vehicle and up to 2 vehicles of minibus/ people carrier size adjacent to the backstage area should be included.
Storage space for large items is paramount within the venue. This can include heavy items such as stage decks so stage items ideally should be stored close to and with easy access to both the stage and dock doors:
- Large, walk in, secure technical storage areas for staging, lighting, AV and sound equipment to accommodate staging / flats up to 3.6m high adjacent to stage area.
- Storage space (walk in / unsecure) for set/costume props.
Dressing rooms, toilets and shower rooms should all be adjacent to the stage area. The technical, staff / green room, laundry / kitchen and admin areas should also be close to the performance space:
- 2 large chorus dressing rooms separated by a partition that when removed can create one larger space
- 3 smaller dressing rooms
- Green room
- Toilets and shower facilities at stage level
- Admin office
- Technical workspace / secure and non-secure storage
- Staff room
- Kitchen / Wardrobe
Foyer Box Office / Reception
The foyer area should be able to accommodate the Box Office/ Reception area comfortably. It should be situated at a prominent location and should have space (noting that audience capacity may be up to 550 persons) for customers to wait to purchase a ticket as well as wait for the Auditorium to open.
Generally, the venue opens 75 minutes before the performance begins, however customers may not be able to access their seats in the auditorium until 30 minutes before the show begins. As such the foyer is a dwell space, as well as a queuing area. It should include direct access to toilets and lift facilities as required. The Box Office may be staffed from 09:00 to the end of the performance (potentially, 22:30).
- A Box Office with space for 2 computer terminals (wheelchair accessible), ticket printers and under counter storage.
- Connection to Wi-Fi
- Secure back area to count cash and space for safe.
- Space for queues - good flow through.
- Wheelchair accessible.
- Space for patrons to sit / wait.
- Potential to accommodate exhibition/ gallery space within the front foyer (currently FTH is able to offer exhibition space in upper floor corridor for local groups/ organisations and individuals as well as theatre related exhibitions/ displays).
Activity rooms / Shared spaces
A number of spaces which can be available for use for classes, activities and workshops as well as rehearsal space, Council meetings, training or conferences.
The Council is committed to a range of arts, business and community programmes for all sections of the community such as music, drama and dance classes for children and young people, singing groups for adults, etc. As such a suite of multi-purpose rooms positioned away from the stage/ auditorium area (so that theatre activity can take place simultaneously) is required. These spaces could also accommodate arts practitioner, theatre company-in-residence initiatives, conferences and events, as well as Council and Business meetings.
We envisage there will be a number of activity spaces as outlined below.
- Large Studio Space with retractable seating of approx. 220 sqm
- Dance Studio with a sprung floor of approx. 140 sqm
- 2 large flexible Activity Rooms of around 70-80 sq m
- 2 medium flexible Activity Rooms of around 30-50 sq m
- 2 small flexible Activity Rooms of 20 sqm
- Good soundproofing will be required throughout.
- Storage areas in each room
- State of the art IT and wifi ie to be fully fitted for AV/digital, etc media.
The café/ bar is an integral part of the town hall. As well as providing a space and capacity to serve up to 550 customers pre performance and in a 20 minute interval space, consideration will be given to opening the Café Bar to customers out with performance times. This area could be usable with Foyer and Library areas.
- A space that is visible, attractive and easily accessible to public who are not attending an event
- Space to seat tables and chairs for 120 customers
- Provision for service to customers in wheelchairs
- Space to manage queues at service points quickly and effectively
- Point of sale / servery with space for up to 4 terminals
- Adjacency to kitchen
- Café Bar counter area developed to accommodate sale of alcohol/ non-alcohol in accordance with Licensing Regulations.
- Efficient and easy access to food and beverage preparation areas and equipment (eg coffee machines, kitchen pass)
- Space to accommodate service equipment including ice machine, fridges, glass washer etc
- Large, walk in, secure non-technical storage areas for seats, tables, cleaning equipment etc close to catering / reception area
- Temperature controlled secure storage area adjacent to café bar service point.
- Suitably sized kitchen and food preparation space to facilitate production of hot and cold snacks for up to 125 persons at any single sitting
- Adjacent to Point of Sale/ Servery with easy access and egress
- Adjacent to suitably proportioned and secure food and beverage storage including temperature controlled storage facility
- Easy access to waste/ recycling disposal
- Easy access for deliveries
- Space to accommodate service equipment including ovens, stoves, salamander, dishwashing facilities food and equipment prep and storage etc
- Suitably positioned and sound proofed to ensure that no residual noise from preparation service or cleaning impedes the performance or event within the auditorium or other performance spaces.
Library and Community Learning Space
The library and community learning space requirements are currently under review but it is envisaged that this facility will offer a replacement for the front facing Falkirk Library activities. At present the library holds local reference material, books and offers a range of activities from IT classes to Book Bugs.
The library facility may act as the cohesion between a number of uses within the building including the foyer, reception, café, Hub and Studio/Activity areas.
Hub / One Stop Shop
This part of the facility will act as the Council’s Central Hub or One Stop Shop for the public and requires a High St presence where users can walk in. The Council will offer a range of Services from this part of the facility and the detailed requirements are currently under review as the Council reconsiders how it can best service the needs of the public and the most vulnerable who perhaps require a face-to-face intervention.
It is envisaged that this part of the new facility will replace the Central Hub at the Falkirk Library, the Burgh Buildings and would offer the public a place to receive a wide variety of services from Planning/Building Control enquiries to Registration and Licencing activity, to financial and benefits advice.
The Council will also explore whether other public sector partners (SSSA, Skills Development Scotland, DWP, Health Education, etc) would be keen to share facilities or co-locate alongside.
The Hub will also work closely with the Library and may potential utilise the Studio Activity areas although the Hub zone will have a series of public facing self help desks, open desks for discussions with Advisers and private interview rooms.
The office areas should draw on the modern office exemplars, including from the Council offices at the Foundry and Stadium which have just been refitted to the Council’s agile working standard. The offices should produce a range of flexible spaces that can change over time as the business of the local authority alters, with minimum disruption to users.
The office areas should have an open plan office floor plate, with a 12m floor depth and 2.8m clear ceiling height to maximize daylight standards and have a minimum number of cellular offices. Within each floor plate, there will be workstations, printing facilities, personnel storage lockers, departmental storage, tea preparation and a series of collaborative breakout, layout, touch down, etc spaces. The floor plate must be sufficiently flexible and serviced to accommodate these changes as different Services use the building and working practices change over time.
A space standard of 8sqm NIA per FTE building occupant is required as the Council intend to adopt an occupancy ratio of 5 desks per 10 FTE. A single central primary circulation zone of 1500mm should be adopted within each work floor. An allocation for storage 2 linear m per workstation for team storage should also be allowed.
The building services (power, data, wifi) should be configured to maintain flexibility and the open plan floor plates should be zoned to ensure that the thermal comfort of the building is not compromised as the uses alter over time for lighting, ventilation etc.
- To maximize the use of natural daylight, have views from the building, be well light and have windows that are occupant controlled to provide localised ventilation in addition to BMS control
- Have good air quality and provide good thermal comfort in both summer and winter seasons, designed to cope with future anticipated climate change characteristics
- Provide effective acoustics especially in all meeting spaces, breakout spaces, etc.
General access and site issues
One of the most important aspects of any new venue is the ease with which shows/productions/usage can be set up. The ease of getting shows and productions in and out affects the reputation of the venue with the users, and the economics of bringing in guest shows for short runs. Ideally, the stage in any new town hall should be at the same level as the tailgate of the vehicle loading bay. Therefore, slopping sites or sites with level changes may be advantageous.
Within the building, travel distances between loading bays and destinations must be minimised, both to reduce time and labour and also to avoid unnecessary corridors. A general rule is that the most used destinations and the one that receives the largest size and volume of goods should have the shortest delivery routes ie the stage and library.
The categories of delivery/removal which must be considered are:
- scenery, props, costumes, technical equipment, and other delivery trucks up to the legal maximum length (44 feet or 13.5 metres trailers) approximately 18.55 metres long
- musical instruments in a pantechnicon van, often to a basement orchestra pit
- smaller vehicles with performing arts goods, maintenance materials to the stage door
- catering and refreshment deliveries to the stores, bars and kitchen (if there is one)
- office deliveries
- general and catering waste.
Loading Bays and arrangements are particularly important and will have a bearing on the suitability of some sites. One or two lorries will typically be servicing the theatre/stage simultaneously for a get-in or get-out. Any vehicle should be able to arrive or leave without disturbing another. Other uses may require servicing at the same time as the theatre.
Servicing of Town Hall facilities can be out of normal working hours so consideration must be given to adjacent uses and whether this servicing activity needs to be brought into the building in order to avoid noise disturbance to neighbours or other users of the building. Access to the stage must not be dependent on other users not requiring the facilities. These facilities must be available to the theatre and studio as a priority and on 24-hour availability if the Council wishes to attract and meet the rigorous schedules of touring companies.
There may require to be a separate loading positions for non theatre uses, catering and for general deliveries.
It should be possible for all loading to be done under weather protection and loading bays should be level over their length to avoid dangerous uncontrolled movement of wheeled items during loading or unloading but this will be site dependent.
Consideration also needs to be given to where a 40-foot container can be parked-up ready for swapping over with another container.
As well as service vehicles unloading, consideration needs to be given to dropping off and collecting arrangements for audiences and children attending the theatre or workshops events.
Notional accommodation schedule
|Notional brief area (NIA m2)
|Foyer Box Office / Reception
|Includes toilets, cleaners store, ICT room, secure room
|Theatre space / Auditorium
Stage/ Performance Space
|Includes lobby access to auditorium, service risers
|It is envisaged that the auditorium will be over 2-3 levels.
|Storage and dock
|Note requirement for HGV access/parking to dock
|Includes WC/shower provision
|Studios / Activity / Meeting Rooms
|These areas should have sink/wet area provision in at least 2 of the rooms
|These also include use for Council demo
|Café Bar / Kitchen
|Includes an element of separate toilet provision, office, storage
|Public access PCs
|Needs to be near to activity rooms and Hub, may share space with Foyer/Café, etc
|Hub / One Stop Shop
|Will offer Registration, Licensing, Council Tax, Benefit Advice etc facilities via self help, Interview & Open desk facilities
|May be potential to enlarge for other public sector partners
|For Elected Members, Senior Mgt base, Council touchdown and building management
|4,800 NIA m2
Exclusions: unless noted otherwise, notional brief areas do include horizontal/vertical circulation, toilet provision, service ducts/risers, plant space. External works (pedestrian accessibility, parking – cars, HGV, coaches, service access) are not included.
The above requirements give a flavour of the Councils high level brief for the new Falkirk Town Hall, which will continue to evolve over the next few months.
Any further information can be gained from emailing the Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been considering options for these facilities for a significant period and it is imperative that this project can be delivered to acceptable timescales. Our indicative timescales are as follows, but will vary depending on the site assembly considerations:
- Preferred Site Selection – Spring 2023, with a report recommending the preferred site to April Council for consideration
- Due Diligence / Agreed Terms (which may be suspensive) – May / June / July 2023
- Relocation of Tenants (if applicable) – TBC but will be site dependent
- Demolition / Preparation of Site (if applicable) – TBC but will be site dependent
- Detailed Design / Statutory Consents / Costing / Procurement for Project – 2023/24
- Site start by 2025
Submissions from interested owners should include information on:
- the proposed site area and confirmation of owners' willingness to participate
- an ownership plan, photographs and a copy of their title(s)
- any anticipated constraints to progression and delivery including any land ownerships not within their control, physical or logistical barriers, such as existing tenancies. If there are active tenancies, please provide an up to date tenancy schedule outlining lease terms - a lease terms template can be provided on request.
- an assessment of value sought for the ownership
- preferred disposal timescale
- contact details and availability to meet for further discussions over January/February 2023.
Responses are requested by Friday 03 February 2023 by email to the following address: