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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Monday, 11 October 2010 15:30 UK
Student digs plan for 'at risk' chapel in Manchester
The Upper Brook Street chapel
The Upper Brook Street chapel lost its roof in 2006

A Gothic church named as one of the ten 'most threatened' buildings in England and Wales could become student digs.

The former Unitarian chapel in Manchester has been derelict for years and was partially demolished in 2006 for safety reasons.

The Victorian Society has included it in a list of the country's most 'at risk' structures.

It's now believed a rescue plan has been put forward to convert the chapel into university accommodation.

Neo-gothic

The former Unitarian Chapel is a 170-year-old Gothic building on Upper Brook Street not far from the University of Manchester.

Mark Watson
If this proposal goes ahead, it needs to fulfil some useful local purpose
Mark Watson, Victorian Society

The grade II* listed structure was built in a neo-gothic style by the architect Sir Charles Barry shortly before he designed the Houses of Parliament and the Manchester Athenaeum, now part of the Manchester Art Gallery.

After being abandoned by the Unitarians, the 170-year-old building been used by different religious groups including the Welsh Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Islamic Academy of Manchester.

But it fell into serious disrepair after it was acquired by Manchester City Council in the 1970s and its roof was removed in 2006 on safety grounds.

The Victorian Society has included it in a lost of the country's 'most threatened' buildings.

Mark Watson of the society described it as "a fantastically, important building" that should be preserved.

"It got into this state because after the War, the intention had been to build a big motorway into Manchester.

"The local authority had purchased the land all the way long the side of Upper Brook Street with that motorway in mind. However, the idea of that motorway was dropped years and years ago."

Future

After years of uncertainty, the council confirmed that it's in advanced talks with a developer to "renovate the building and bring it back into use."

A statement released by the authority said: "Discussions are at an early stage but we hope to make an announcement about the future of the chapel within the next few months."

And while the council wouldn't say what it would be used for, it's believed the plans involve converting the chapel into student accommodation.

"If this proposal goes ahead, it needs to fulfil some useful local purpose," said Mark Watson.

English Heritage said it was both happy and relieved with the proposals for the chapel.

"It has proved difficult to develop a scheme of repair and reuse," said a spokesperson.

"We are therefore pleased that negotiations with a developer who is interested in repairing and reusing the building are in progress."




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