Editional Studio Picture House

Fresh hope for Chorlton Picture House

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

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.”

Your Comments

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Silly move by the co-op. I thought they were supposed to be a business? If you get a higher bid you accept that bid.

By Dan

Great to see the Co-op working with the community and aligning with their co-operative roots.

By Active Travel Trev

Excellent news. I hope Chorlton CLT can pull it together.

By Allotmentlad

Agree with @Dan, you sell to whoever offers more. Also, why are the Co-Op obligated to make sure the scheme is deliverable on a site they are off loading?

By Bradford

Good to see the Co-op living up to its ethical business claims and kicking Churchill Retirement into touch. Churchill year on year return record profits and provide no affordable housing, charge extortionate service charges and then take your next of kin to cleaners once you pass away.

By MD

Great to see that profits isn’t always the deciding factor. Sure, a company generally speaking should go for the highest offer, but if the highest offer isn’t the best offer for the community and the best offer for the community is still a good offer, then this is a win for all. Well done on the co-op for seeing this.

By EOD

Celebratory houmous all round! Full marks to the campaigners. Dan: you may not be aware that the Co-op operates on a values-led basis rather than a purely commercial one. This decision sits squarely with that approach.

By Bob Alatt

Dear Bradford. Sell to whoever pays more? That is why anarchists need regulating. We need a social-market economy, like in northern and central Europe. Not, a market society ruled by those who’d sell me grandmother if the price was right. The world around you, which we all benefit from, was built by Victorian entrepreneurs with moral values. They also invented the Co-op. A Place is created by entrepreneurship, neighbors, community and society: which all depend upon morality. Selling to the highest bidder is alright, if you can afford to live in a prison ‘gated community’ like Thatcher did.

By James Yates

They’ve accepted a lower bid on the condition the site delivers key community elements. That’s clearly written in the first paragraph. Or did you both do a poor job of skim-reading this?

By Anonymous

@Dan it might be a business but it is a Manchester business with community at its heart. Not all business decisions are about money.

By Rob

Dan, that is a ridiculous statement. Maybe some people/organisations want to do something for the public good now and again. There is more to life than money.

By Derek

Great news!!

By George

It’s very sad to see such greedy money driven comments from the likes of Dan and Bradford. it would be interesting to know which businesses you work for, in order to avoid engaging with businesses where decision-making is based purely on money, as there are so many other considerations to be made before making a decision.
Fortunately, the Co-op appear to be enlightened that you, and so their decision-making appears to be more informed and considered.

By Anon

The coop has three stores in the area. This option helps regenerate a district centre, and will bring in more customers so the coop is on to a win-win. Businesses have to think beyond the end of their noses to prosper.

By Anonymous

Rob…parochial comes to mind.

By Peter Lu

What depressing comments by @Dan and @Bradford. Take your capitalist utopia ideals elsewhere and do one.

By ReasonableEndeavours

Reasonable Endeavours, you make me feel so superior, thank you

By Dan

Actually the COOP has 5 Branches in the area, Chorlton Beech rd, Chorlton Center, Chorlton Bus Station, Chorlton Mersey and by Barlow Moor Tram stop.
As a resident of Chorlton for the past 20 years I can categorically say its changed, outsiders look upon as a whimsical hippy, mother earth, vegan paradise, it definitely isn’t that anymore. A terrace house just of Beech Rd will cost you £500K, its a money grabbing cockney infested Media City playground. Little street markets don’t work anymore or if they do its only for a few months. Personally I would love to see it turned in to affordable housing. As to there being a community in Chorlton ha ha ha ha .

By Daisy