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Ancoats Dispensary Breakthrough

Jill Burdett reveals the £777,000 grant determined campaigners have won

Published on August 6th 2014.


Ancoats Dispensary Breakthrough
 

HATS off to the sturdy and determined souls of the Ancoats Dispensary Trust who have held a vigil outside the Grade II listed building every day for the past two years and have finally been rewarded with a big chunk of hope.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has committed £777,000 to pay for works to stabilise and safeguard the building and give campaigners time to put together a bid for a full restoration grant of £3.3m from the Heritage Enterprise Scheme.

But they also have to raise £1m – in under two years as part of match funding.

"There is lots of support and we will be launching a Community Share programme but what we will really be looking for are big cash injections"

As the fizz of the financial lifeline died down ADT co-ordinator, Linda Carver said: “We have to think very quickly what happens next because if we don’t raise the £1m then we don’t get the next wave of money and we are back to square one. The pressure is on but there has been such a huge surge of support and interest that I know we can do it.”

5Bwi_OADT Co-ordinator Linda Carver

It is two years since Confidential reported on the campaign to save the Dispensary and the Lottery funding really is testament to their determination and professionalism.

Especially given that it has been down to a core dozen or so people meeting weekly, driving things forward, keeping the enthusiasm and not giving up.

The Trust is now working with Igloo Regeneration on future plans for the building and the first step is to get the legal work done to transfer the “asset” from current owners Urban Splash to them.

“How do we feel about Urban Splash now?” says Linda, “At the beginning people were very, very angry but you have to move on and you have to work with people and even form a partnership to get what you want. And without them agreeing to not demolish and give us time this would not be happening so you have to give them credit for that.

“Having said that we will be glad when the Asset transfer is agreed and the community gets its building back.”

They are already in the process of trying to find a conservation architect who could give them a clear and deliverable vision for the building and tenders are out for firms to bid for the initial safety works.

Linda said: “There are very clear rules in how the Heritage Enterprise Scheme works and how projects must be delivered. They have to be on a commercial basis so we are thrilled to have Igloo as our development partners. But we need other professionals too.

“An experienced fund raiser would be useful. There is lots of support and we will be launching a Community Share programme but what we will really be looking for are big cash injections.

“We cannot raise £1m on car boot sales and stalls. We are out of our league now and could really do with a professional fund raiser, someone who knows where the money is and knows how to go and get it. Volunteers welcome!”

5Bwj_OAncoats Dispensary in its current state

The suggestion is that the Dispensary would become a community enterprise hub, pretty apt given the huge scale of building forcast for the area over the next five years.

Linda said: “It may sound a bit airy fairy but this was a place that used to heal the sick and we want it to be a similar place again, a space where people can come and feel better, to heal.

“There could be studio spaces on the upper two floors, with community space on the ground floor for all manner of classes. The area does not have anywhere to hold dance classes or exercise classes right now.

“And a community cafe. When we did the consultation 99% of people wanted a cafe. Not a regular cafe but a place where people all join in which could be used to help young people train for catering qualifications, where children from the school could learn about nutrition and how to cook.   A proper meeting place for the whole Ancoats / New Islington area.

“The Dispensary cannot ever be exactly how it was – there’s not that much left of it. But we want to ensure the restoration of all the heritage features, including the tower.

“Seeing the tower again would be a major symbol for the whole area.”

http://www.ancoatsdispensarytrust.co.uk/

You can follow Jill Burdett @jillburdett

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