April 19th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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Race against time to save historic Ancoats Dispensary
19 Apr 2013 07:22
Councillors have ruled campaigners fighting to save the nineteenth century former hospital have one month to prove they have viable plans for its future
Historic Ancoats Dispensary has been given a ‘13th hour’ stay of execution – after it was set to be demolished.
Councillors have ruled campaigners fighting to save the nineteenth century former hospital have one month to prove they have viable plans for its future.
Members of the Save Ancoats Dispensary group clapped and cheered as councillors deferred a decision to have the building demolished.
The group now plans to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding to fund the building’s restoration and create a new, modern structure inside the remains of the Grade II listed hospital.
Members also say they have found tenants to take it over. They say AWOL studios, currently based in nearby Hope Mill, which provides studios for artists and start-up businesses, needs second premises.
The Dispensary on Old Mill Street has been standing derelict since 1998, when development plans by owners Urban Splash fell through.
At the Manchester town hall meeting, architect Alex Finlason, who is working with the campaign group on plans to save the Dispensary, said: “This may be the 13th hour for this important building and for the people of Ancoats to have their voices heard, but I can assure you it is not too late.”
Council officers had said there was no need to delay the demolition order, claiming the campaign group did not have an immediately viable plan for the building’s future.
But councillors ruled to postpone the decision until next month’s planning meeting to give them more time.
Leaders of the Save Ancoats Dispensary group say they have already begun an application for lottery funding and will hold meetings with English Heritage and council planners in the coming days. Following the decision, campaign co-ordinator Linda Carver said: “We are absolutely delighted.
“We’re so pleased the planning committee have had the courage to stand up against terrific opposition.”
No-one from Urban Splash spoke at the meeting.
The company bought the Dispensary from the NHS in 2001 as part of a wider
plan to redevelop Ancoats.
But when cash ran out seven years later the firm was unable to sell the building or pay for its restoration.
A decision by council planners last June that the building should be demolished was then reviewed by Communities secretary of state Eric Pickles – who ruled Manchester council should have the final say after all.
But if the building does have to be demolished, a number of features, including the arched brick entrance and stone inscriptions, must be saved from the bulldozers.