The Co-op has announced it will work with Chorlton Community Land Trust on proposals for the redevelopment of The Co-op Funeralcare building, accepting the CLT’s offer of £2.2m for the site as long as the scheme “delivers key community elements”.
In a surprise move, The Co-op said it would give CLT more time to secure end users for its community-led development of the site in the centre of Chorlton, despite CLT being told earlier this month its crowdfunded bid for the building had been rejected.
A statement from The Co-op said “despite receiving higher bids for its property, it will accept CLT’s offer of £2.2m on the basis that the final proposal delivers the key community elements CLT has stated.
“The Co-op will work with CLT to develop the proposal. However, if a sale to the CLT does not proceed, The Co-op will go ahead with alternative development plans for the property.”
Formerly the Picture House and Gaumont cinema on Manchester Road, the building has been occupied by Co-operative Funeralcare for several years, with the former cinema left inaccessible. The site is known for having hosted the Bee Gees’ first gig in the 1950s.
Churchill Retirement Living was chosen as the preferred bidder for the site last year, with proposals to clear the plot to make way for apartments for the over-55s.
However, after pressure from Chorlton CLT, in September the Co-op gave the group the opportunity to put forward its own bid, which Chorlton CLT delivered in partnership with developer Generation.
Chorlton CLT put in a £2.2m offer to buy the site after a crowd-funding campaign, however was notified earlier in January the bid had been unsuccessful, with previous high bidder Churchill thought to have been selected with its bid of £2.6m.
While Generation had worked with architect Hawkins\Brown on feasibility studies for its earlier proposal, which was rejected in favour of the Churchill scheme, Chorlton CLT brought in local practice Editional Studio, to propose retaining and refurbishing the existing building to include a food market, alongside community uses such as a GP surgery and housing.
The CLT said it will now work with a commercial development partner to confirm its delivery plan, to allow The Co-op to sell its interest to CLT and redevelop the site, retaining the former Gaumont Cinema building.
The Co-op said it has “always been supportive of the ambition behind the CLT bid to redevelop the site with uses that would appeal to our local members and the wider Chorlton community. It was keen, however, to ensure that the aspiration was supported by a clear proposal that is deliverable. CLT has demonstrated that this additional time will enable them to firm up their plans to deliver a development for local enterprises and community-focussed services and facilities.”
Steve Goslyn, Chorlton CLT chair said: “We are delighted with this outcome, and look forward to working with the Co-op and the Chorlton community to bring together a wide range of entrepreneurial and creative talents, and interests, to fully realise our vision for the old Gaumont Cinema to be transformed as the heart of our community.”