A campaign to save the iconic Cornerhouse building is underway – after fears that the building could be demolished once the arts venue moves to its new home.
The petition has already amassed more than 500 signatures overnight after it emerged that the building is already being eyed to possibly be converted into an office, hotel and leisure complex.
The site becomes free in 2015 when Cornerhouse moves to its new First Street location, where it will be unveiled as Home.
Petition-starter Polly Bentham, from Manchester, fears that the redevelopment could see the Cornerhouse demolished to make way for the development.
The council have yet to make a decision and Ms Bentham hopes her petition could save the iconic building to be enjoyed by future generations.
Ms Bentham said: “Sometimes restoration is better than demolition. Because our city doesn’t need yet another characterless hotel and apartment block, Manchester can and should be more imaginative than that.
“The proposed redevelopment of the existing Cornerhouse buildings and surrounding area is at a relatively early stage – this is our chance to influence the Council’s and Network Rail’s plans and what is submitted in the planning application.”
The site is a key part in a wider regeneration of the ‘Manchester Corridor’, with a redevelopment of the city’s second biggest station – Oxford Road – being at the centre of it.
Senior director at DTZ, Ken Bishop said: “We are seeking a development partner with a proven track record in city centre regeneration, preferably with experience in development adjacent to an operational railway line.
“This opportunity has great potential to make a significant intervention and contribution to the regeneration of this part of the regional centre.”
However Ms Bentham believes that if the public come up with other ideas for the site, they might be able to stop it falling into the hands of developers.
“Whilst keeping the Cornerhouse is likely to be considered in the redevelopment options, this option will be discounted unless we can give them a good reason to keep it,” she said.
“We need ideas for its re-use – continue the debate here.”
However Manchester City Council have claimed that while there is a regeneration ‘opportunity’ at the 500,00sq ft site that includes the Cornerhouse spot, they say that recent media reports that a decision had been made to demolish it were ‘entirely wrong’.
A Manchester City Council spokesman told MM: “Following recent speculation in the media, we wish to clarify the position with regard to the building which is currently home to the Cornerhouse.
“Contrary to the impression given in some reports, absolutely no decisions have been taken about the building’s future once the new HOME arts complex opens in First Street. It is the case that major improvements to Oxford Road station have opened up a regeneration opportunity for a 500,000sq ft site including the Cornerhouse building.
“It is also the case that Network Rail and Manchester City Council are looking for developers to bring this forward. But no specific proposals will be brought forward until developers submit them, so any suggestion that a decision has been taken to either retain the building as part of the development or demolish it is entirely wrong.”
Yet passionate messages in favour of protecting the site are already flooding in on change.org, the website hosting the petition.
Jeremy Dolen, of Manchester, said: “Once again Manchester City Council want to destroy a much loved landmark in favour of characterless apartments/notes/ ‘leisure opportunities’. They MUST be stopped.”
Drew Wilby, from Bolton, added: “Stop demolishing nice buildings that make up Manchester! Go up the road and build something on the unused space next to Canal Street!”
Ms Bentham tweeted out the cause yesterday and has since expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support that is has received.
— Polly (@pollybentham) August 7, 2014
One day later, over 450 signatures!! But we need more. Please sign to save the Cornerhouse buildings https://t.co/HNMwJU8DpW
— Polly (@pollybentham) August 8, 2014
It has also won the backing of Withington Labour Councillor Rebecca Moore, who tweeted her praise for Ms Bentham, with whom she works.
— Rebecca Moore (@rebecca_moore_) August 7, 2014
A Facebook page for the cause has also arisen, allowing those interested to engage in public debate over the issue.
MM will be discussing the petition with Polly Bentham shortly. Check back for our follow-up.
You can view the petition here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/manchester-city-council-and-network-rail-save-the-cornerhouse
Image courtesy of Trash World, with thanks.