The Heritage Lottery Fund has claimed it would be “reckless” to commit any further funding towards the restoration of the Ancoats Dispensary in Manchester, after the project failed to secure a £4.5m grant for refurbishment works.
The HLF had previously backed the restoration works, which is being brought forward by the Ancoats Dispensary Trust and its partner Igloo Regeneration, to the tune of £770,000 towards initial development of plans and stabilisation of the derelict building.
Architect Purcell had revealed designs for a renovated Dispensary, including a community café, event space and meeting rooms, alongside two storeys of offices. Igloo and the Trust had hoped to start work this month, subject to the funding being approved.
However, with funding now not forthcoming, the future of the project has been cast into doubt.
Nathan Lee, head of HLF North West said: “We have funded the development of this project and worked hard with the many partners to find a viable solution.
“However, it is now likely that costs will rise considerably and there has been a lack of progress on match funding.
“There are also concerns around future sustainability. Unfortunately there are now so many risks with this project that successful delivery is unlikely and any commitment of further funding would be reckless.
“We understand that other plans are being considered and hope that Manchester can retain something of this incredibly important landmark.”
In a statement to Place North West, Carey Bamber, director on the board of the Ancoats Dispensary Trust, said the Trust believed its business plan, which has been worked on for three years, was “robust”.
“We have been grateful for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund over the past few years, and we understand that as custodians of public money they must look at all the factors in their decision making,” she said.
“Match funding a project of this scale was always going to be a challenge, and we did secure a significant funding partner in the summer. We have not though, been able to meet the full match, although we do have a number of outstanding bids.
“The building is in a perilous state, and it has been impossible for anyone to enter the site and undertake a full survey.
“As a board we are now focusing our energies on continued efforts to save this outstanding building.”
The Trust added it had made “approaches to high net worth individuals who could champion the project”, and that it also had applications with potential funders that had yet to be decided.
The building near the city centre was first saved from demolition in 2013 after developer Urban Splash agreed to hand it over to the Ancoats Dispensary Trust, subject to enough funds being raised to restore it.