Student rooms plan for derelict church
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A DERBY-based developer has lodged plans to restore the the former Welsh Chapel in Manchester, listed as one of the most at risk Victorian buildings in the country.
Church Converts is proposing to turn the chapel and an adjoining Sunday school building into upmarket accommodation aimed at post-graduate students.
It says the £4m-£5m project is fully funded and will not rely on grant support from the likes of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The scheme would give a new lease of life to the Upper Brook Street building that is slowly decaying after having its roof removed in 2006 due to safety fears.
The grade II* listed structure was designed by Sir Charles Barry shortly before working on the Houses of Parliament and the Manchester Athenaeum, now part of the Manchester Art Gallery.
It was built as a Unitarian Chapel in 1837 and acquired by Welsh Baptists in the 1920s. The Jehovah’s Witnesses then used it in the 1960s until it was compulsorily purchased by Manchester City Council in 1974 in order to make way for a planned motorway. This idea was shelved and the building was then leased to the Islamic Academy of Manchester.
According to a planning statement Church Converts has acquired a lease from the council and plans to buy the freehold. Following a design by Derby-based Latham Architects it will convert the two buildings and add another in the grounds to create 93 flats.
Church Converts is owned by restoration architect Derek Latham, developer Simon Linford and lawyer Michael Copestake.
Mr Linford, pictured, said: “It’s great to have reached this stage in bringing this important building back to life. We want to create 93 stunning residential apartments that will benefit from the character and architectural features of this historic chapel and former Sunday School.
“In terms of saving buildings at risk, this project is as difficult as they come. We have worked closely with Manchester City Council and English Heritage to draw up plans to ensure this Grade II* listed building has a viable, sustainable future.”
Subject to planning, Church Converts hopes to have the work completed by the end of next year.