They are among Manchester’s best-known landmarks… but these historic buildings now lie derelict and disused.

Source: Manchester Evening News

They are among Manchester’s best-known landmarks… but these historic buildings now lie derelict and disused.

Heritage experts have sounded a warning over the perilous state of dozens of important buildings and have called for businesses and town hall bosses to work together to save the city’s unique heritage.

It comes after the M.E.N revealed how Manchester council was hit with a £1.5m legal bill after a failed bid to take over London Road Fire Station.

The historic building, named as one of the UK’s most endangered structures, has been at the centre of a long-running dispute between the town hall and owners, Britannia Hotels.

But the spotlight has now turned to other forgotten treasures – some close to collapse, others the subject of ambitious development plans which ran out of money or are unable to find tenants.

Politicians and conservation groups have called it ‘a scandal’ that so many of Manchester’s listed buildings are disused – and have called for a campaign to bring them back to life.

In total Manchester has 882 listed buildings, half of which are in the city centre alone.

Fourteen are judged ‘At Risk’ after becoming so dilapidated they are in danger of being beyond saving.

Campaigners have fought to save Ancoats Dispensary – which is now in a dangerous state and scheduled for demolition after developers Urban Splash were unable to bring it back to life.

Chris Costelloe, the director of the Victorian Society and an expert in Manchester’s architecture, said the recession had scuppered a number of key developments.

He added: “Manchester has a unique architectural heritage as the workshop of the world.

“It has some magnificent buildings and in a time of recession it is more important than ever that people look after them to ensure their long term future.

“The recession and lack of finance from the banks is a big factor at the moment that stops developers taking on historical buildings or allowing them to be restored.

“We need to look after them until the economy turns around and not relax the planning rules which protect them in the mean time, which would be very short-sighted.”

Building protection experts at English Heritage are now hoping to have more of a say on proposals to demolish or convert Grade II listed buildings.

Currently the organisation only gets a say when a planning application is put in for Grade II* or Grade I listed buildings – those rated of greatest historical importance.

But council bosses say they are actively working to attract and work with developers to  to take on and restore historic buildings.

Coun Pat Karney, Manchester city centre spokesman, said: “Between the council and the public there’s a real role for the council to put pressure on these developers.

“Manchester’s history is dissolving away – there’s a certain point when these buildings just have to pulled down and no-one wants that.

“Obviously it is a difficult economic time and we have to be realistic, but we need to protect Manchester’s history with sympathetic development of its historic buildings.”

In the latest development on the London Road Fire Station, Manchester council says it wants to bury the hatchet with privately-owned Britannia and work towards restoring the building.

The Northern Quarter’s own version of the New York ‘Flat Iron’ building, the iconic wedge-shaped structure sits in between Newton Street and Port Street.  Built for merchants Kessler and Co in the later 1800s, it is in good condition, but empty and is currently being advertised for rent.

*Bradley Hose, Dale Street

The Northern Quarter’s own version of the New York ‘Flat Iron’ building, the iconic wedge-shaped structure sits in between Newton Street and Port Street. Built for merchants Kessler and Co in the later 1800s, it is in good condition, but empty and is currently being advertised for rent.

*Paragon Mills, Ancoats

A huge mill complex on Jersey Street, built in 1912 for company McConnell Kennedy amid Manchester’s booming cotton trade. It was one of the first structures in the city to be created specifically for electrically-powered machinery. The mill had was due to be converted into flats before developers ING Real Estate was hit by the economic downturn in 2008. It was recently listed on English Heritage’s ‘At Risk’ register.

* Former Welsh Baptist Chapel, Upper Brook Street

The 170-year-old church was designed by famed architect Charles Barry. Purchased by the council in 1970, its roof was removed in 2006 amid safety fears. Initial talks to take over the building in 2010 never took off. Given Grade II* listing by English Heritage, it is
on their ‘At Risk’ register and judged to be in extremely poor condition.

*Former Labour Exchange, Aytoun Street

A mid-century modern building constructed in the 1940s. It now lies empty and vandalised. It has no architectural listing but is recognised by Manchester Modernist Society as one of the city’s ‘Ugly Gems’. A plan to demolish it and built a 44-storey glass towerblock in its place was scrapped in 2010 when owners Albany Crown went into administration. Manchester Council hope to speak to another developer during 2013.

*Union Bank, Piccadilly

Built in 1911, this building opposite Piccadilly station was designed by famed architects Thomas Worthington and Son, also behind nearby Minshull Street Crown Court. Constructed for the Union Bank of Scotland, it boasts ornate balconies and engravings. Until recently a pound shop operated from the building’s ground floor – but it now stands empty.

*And two it’s too late to save

Palatine Hotel: Believed to be England’s first station hotel, the building next to Victoria Station will be demolished under plans for a new Cathedral Quarter. Owned by Chetham’s School of Music, it was used as classrooms for many years. The school wants to demolish it as part of wider plans to open up the site – and says the hotel’s removal will offer better views of its older, 17th Century buildings.

Ancoats Dispensary: The Grade II listed building was once part of a larger hospital complex which treated the poor of Ancoats. But after closing it fell into disrepair, with an estimated bill of £3m to save it. Developers Urban Splash had hoped to save the building but shelved its plans when a grant from the North West Development Agency was taken off the table. Because of its potentially dangerous condition,

Source: Manchester Evening News