Ancoats Dispensary
Images courtesy of Buttress

Great Places proposes Ancoats Dispensary apartments

Neil Tague

The keenly-awaited redevelopment of the grade two-listed Manchester building in a 39-apartment affordable housing scheme has progressed, with plans now lodged.

Great Places Housing Group said that by incorporating elements of what remains of the original building, it hopes to protect the building’s heritage and legacy while bringing affordable homes to the area. Buttress is the project architect.

Situated in an area that has become hugely popular with residential developers, the building dates back to 1874 but has deteriorated since being vacated in 1989, and currently requires scaffolding to hold up what remains of the existing structure.

Great Places, in partnership with Manchester City Council and part-funded by Homes England, plans to redevelop what remains of the Dispensary for a mixture of 39 one and two-bed apartments which will be available for affordable rent.

The housing group has worked on the proposals with stakeholders including Manchester Life, developer of the adjacent 213-home Lampwick scheme, as well as the Ancoats Dispensary Trust, to ensure plans preserve as much of the original facade as possible. The design focuses on preserving the Old Mill Street and Lampwick Lane facades.

Helen Spencer, director of development at Great Places, described the project as looking “to save one of Ancoats’ most cherished landmarks as well as providing 39 high-quality much needed affordable new homes in the area”.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is a landmark moment for the Ancoats Dispensary, a building whose future has not been certain for decades. Following a number of bids to save it, it’s fantastic to now be able to celebrate a way forward.”

Ancoats Dispensary 2

Plans had advanced around in the late 2000s for redevelopment, with the Northwest Regional Development Agency lined up to support an Urban Splash redevelopment, 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 in 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.

Trevor MacFarlane, chair of Ancoats Dispensary Trust said: “The people of Manchester campaigned for years to save the Ancoats Dispensary from unnecessary demolition.

“Led by community activists, the Ancoats Dispensary Trust really embodied the spirit of people power, protecting the building against all the odds.

“So we’re delighted Great Places and Manchester City Council are putting forward such a sensitive scheme that will finally see that iconic tower reinstated, affordable housing in the area and the Ancoats Dispensary saved for future generations to love as much as we have.”

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An iconic building and one of great social and historic value, immortalised as it was by Lowry. Shame the community use couldn’t be maintained as part of any redevelopment – but the fault for that lies at the door of Urban Splash who neglected the building to such an extent it was at the point of falling down.

By Lowry Not

Preserving a heritage asset and delivering affordable homes in Ancoats – well done Manchester City Council.

By Anonymous

Couldn’t be in better hands. While it’s nice to have the huge developments like Mayfield and ID Manchester, taking care of and repurposing historic buildings like this are what helps give life to the city.

By Simon

I worked on the CHIPS building on Old Mill st and this could be a beautiful area.dont need more cheap made unaffordable rabbit hutch s

By W Deeley