Ancoats Dispensary fails to win more funding

Future of Grade II-listed former hospital in doubt after HLF rejects bid

Hero image

One of the 10 most at-risk buildings in England and Wales has failed in its bid to secure £4.3 million of Heritage Lottery funding. But members of the Ancoats Dispensary Trust say they remain determined to save the historic former hospital in Manchester and turn it into a mixed-use community and commercial space.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has turned down Ancoats Dispensary Trust’s (ADT) application because it failed to secure match funding of around £800,000 from other backers.

Having been established in 1828 in response to the ill effects on local people of the industrial revolution, the hospital closed in 1989 and the building fell into disrepair.

It was Grade II-listed in 2011 but its new owner Urban Splash intended to demolish it until a campaign led by ADT forced a change of mind.

In 2015 ADT took over formal ownership of the building and raised enough in private donations to unlock £770,000 in Heritage Lottery Fund money.

That funding was to prevent the building falling further into disrepair. A development vehicle for the project was set up, including social regeneration specialists Igloo and Purcell UK, an architectural practice specialising in heritage projects.

They were appointed to design a scheme that retained the historical features but with a contemporary reworking of building.

This year’s failed funding bid to take the work further has come as a blow, admitted Trevor MacFarlane, ADT chair.

“We are not giving up however and we will regroup and look at as many alternate ways of saving the building as possible,” he said.

ADT still has a number of applications with potential funders awaiting a decision and has approached private investors.

Amy-Grace Whillans-Welldrake, ADT board member, said: “We are saddened and devastated by this decision as we have not only worked tirelessly in preventing the demolition of the Dispensary, with a vigil lasting four years, but have created what we believe is a rigorous business plan and a sustainable vision for a new re-purposed Dispensary.

“Having supported us with their generous Stage 1 grant it’s a shame that we have not qualified for HLF’s all-important Stage 2 bid, which would have sealed the fate of the Dispensary for future generations.”

Photo: Pete Birkinshaw


Nathan Lee, head of HLF North West, said: “It is with great sadness that we have been unable to support a grant of £4.28 million to the Ancoats Dispensary Group. This was a very difficult decision and not the one we wanted to take.

We pay tribute to the community group who have worked so hard to save Ancoats Dispensary, one of the remaining architectural gems from Manchester’s industrial past, and understand that this will come as a huge disappointment.

“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.”

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Ancoats Dispensary fails to win more funding

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.