Fresh doubt over future of historic Ancoats Dispensary after lottery funding bid rejected

The future of Manchester’s Grade II listed Ancoats Dispensary is in doubt after a bid for £4.3m of funding was rejected by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

It had previously supported the community-led Ancoats Dispensary Trust with a Stage 1 grant, but made its decision on the larger Stage 2 grant after the ADT was unable to raise the necessary match funding.

The Trust says that it understands the HLF’s decision but that it remains determined to do all it can to preserve the heritage of the 19th-century building.

Plans had been developed by the ADT, who had partnered with regeneration specialists igloo, to turn the site into a mixed-use community and commercial space.

With the Stage 2 lottery funding bid unsuccessful, the hopes of the Trust have been dampened, but chair of the Trust Trevor McFarlane says that they will do everything in their power to make sure that the Dispensary has a place at the heart of Ancoats.

“The Dispensary is a unique Heritage asset in Manchester,” McFarlane added “and it would be a tragedy if it went the way of so many of Manchester’s heritage buildings before it.”

The building was bought by Urban Splash in 2001, and in the same year co-founder Tom Bloxham stood on its roof in a promotional video, overlooking the estate below that would become New Islington. 

In 2011, the Victorian Society named the Dispensary as one of the 10 most at-risk buildings in England and Wales, and amid applications to demolish it in 2011 and 2012, the ADT was set up.

It was agreed that demolition would be put off in 2013 as the Trust tried to raise the funds to save the building, culminating this month with the unsuccessful Stage HLF bid.

“We want people to be aware of this asset, we don’t know what Urban Splash want to do with it, we’ve no idea what the plans are, we suspect demolition but we have no idea,” says Amy-Grace Whillans-Welldrake, a director on the ADT board.

“We are really looking for people who care about the heritage, particularly who are in an influential position who might be able to help the Trust lobby, and may even want to do something with the building themselves and might want to talk to Urban Splash about it.

“Our plan was to use it for the community, we know that’s not likely now so if we can just save what it represents then that’s our original mission statement.”

Urban Splash have not yet responded to requests from MM for a comment.

If you are a developer and are interested helping to save The Dispensary or have any questions about the project please contact Linda Carver on 0161 235 0841 or email the Trust at [email protected]

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