Eric Wright picked for Ancoats Dispensary overhaul

The contractor will convert the grade two-listed Manchester building into 39 apartments for Great Places.

Plans to redevelop the Old Mill Street property were approved in July and now Eric Wright Construction is preparing to start work in the next few weeks.

The project will see the retention of the dispensary’s grade two-listed façades, the restoration and reconstruction of the tower, as well new-build works to the rear and a two-storey extension.

Ancoats Dispensary was constructed in 1874 to support the Royal Infirmary to meet the increased need for healthcare provision across Manchester.

The building’s redevelopment includes 39 one- and two-bedroom apartments, which will be allocated for affordable rent.

“We have been involved in several projects in Ancoats and New Islington and are thrilled to be once again playing a role in the ongoing regeneration of this area,” said James Eager, director at Eric Wright Construction.

“This building has huge historical significance and we will ensure the dispensary is sensitively transformed to a fully functioning building after having lain derelict for over three decades.”

Situated in an area that has become hugely popular with residential developers, the building has deteriorated since being vacated in 1989, and currently requires scaffolding to hold up what remains of the existing structure.

Plans for the dispensary’s redevelopment came forward in the late 2000s with the Northwest Regional Development Agency lined up to support an Urban Splash scheme, the firm having taken on the building in 2001 as part of its New Islington masterplan.

However, once the NWDA was wound up, redevelopment costs proved too prohibitive for the credit crunch-hit developer, which put into motion demolition plans, whipping up a storm of local opposition.

The site was then transferred to the Ancoats Dispensary Trust in 2013, which put together a redevelopment plan with Igloo Regeneration – however the project failed to secure a £4.5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2017, leading to it being transferred to the council in 2018.

Helen Spencer, director of development at Great Places, said: “This is a flagship scheme that heralds a new era for one of Ancoats’ most cherished landmarks.

“Eric Wright Construction are specialists in the renewal of historic buildings, and we are looking forward to starting work.”

The Ancoats Dispensary scheme was one of four revealed by Manchester City Council, Great Places and Manchester Life last year.

Manchester City Council, Manchester Life and affordable housing provider Great Places signed a 10-year cooperation agreement in 2019 to identify viable sites for housing delivery in East Manchester.

The others are: 

Downley Drive – 45 apartments and 23 houses, providing a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom properties on the corner of St Vincent Street and Woodward Place, close to the Rochdale Canal.  

The Ancoats Mobility Hub – Located on land between Poland Street and Ancoats Green, the proposed mobility hub is an emerging concept of a shared car and cycle parking facility for residents and visitors, with electric vehicle charging outlets, and a last-mile delivery consolidation centre to reduce vehicle movements and street parking. 

Eliza Yard – An eight-storey apartment block on the corner of Poland Street and Jersey Street featuring 118 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.  

All four projects have been approved by the city council. 

Your Comments

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Great to see this historically important building retained and reused. A shame that the various problems has removed any possibility of community use. A shame too that it sits opposite and next to Manchester Life’s cheap and hideous-looking apartment blocks on Old Hall Street.

By Lowry not

Agree with the above – there’s some pretty awful new blocks that have gone up nearby, but at least this is being saved!

By Steve

This will be a fantastic scheme providing much needed affordable housing in the area. I can’t wait to see the end result. Well done to all parties!

By Dan F

Will it be affordable housing or will they only be for people with money

By Ruby

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