An earlier CGI of the proposed scheme. Credit: via planning documents

Church of Scientology resurrects Old Trafford plans

Seventeen years after acquiring Duckworth’s Essence Distillery on Chester Road, the church is making noises once again about the building’s potential redevelopment into a place of worship.

The Church of Scientology has reignited proposals to convert the grade two-listed Old Trafford building for a second time.

The church first lodged plans to transform the building in 2007 but the application, lodged by millionaire businessman Piers Springthorpe, was withdrawn.

Planning consent was then secured in 2019, but that permission has now lapsed.

The Church of Scientology’s most recent application is essentially a resubmission of the 2018 application.

It seeks permission to clean up and refurbish the building and transform it into an Ideal Org – a term coined by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard to describe a venue that provides space both for followers of the religion and the local community.

NJSR is the scheme’s architect and Paul Butler Associates is advising on planning. To learn more about the project, search for application reference 113796/FUL/24 on Trafford Council’s planning portal.

The Duckworth’s Essence Distillery was built in 1896, and the company traded at the site until 2003 when it was taken over by food giant Cargill. The Church of Scientology acquired the site in 2007.

The former distillery was one of several eyesore sites off Chester Road that were highlighted by Trafford Council as causing “a potential drag on investment” last year.

Duckworth’s has been on Historic England’s at risk register since 2012.

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