Manchester City Council

Sports, leisure & the Arts Ancoats Conservation area

Improvement and enhancement

It is envisaged that major refurbishment works will take place in the near future, not only to the mills, but also to other listed buildings, non-listed buildings and spaces in the conservation area.

Some financial assistance may be available to owners of land and buildings, and the guidance of the North Area Team should be sought regarding this. It is felt that the area in general, and the mills in particular, will become important tourist attractions as well as a focus for students of industrial history. Therefore it is important to ensure that the character and quality of both buildings and spaces is retained and enhanced.

Owners of properties will be encouraged to repair, refurbish and improve buildings in a way which rectifies unsympathetic works carried out in the past.

Much of the area's character derives from the size, mass and construction of the older buildings. Generally these are built in red brick between two and six storeys high with pitched slate roofs; windows are vertically proportioned and simply divided.

Although new buildings are generally to be encouraged, they must relate to the existing context in form, scale and materials. They should be neither diluted nor superficial reflections of historic buildings lacking original vitality. Such blandness makes no positive contribution, but simply devalues the historic character of the conservation area.

The development of an awareness of the history and quality of the area will be encouraged, as the City Council views Ancoats as an area of enormous potential for creating prosperity.

Perhaps the most significant action in realising this will be the re-opening of the network of canal branches and basins which have long been filled in and sealed off from the Rochdale Canal. This should open up possibilities for the development of water-based leisure activities and associated commerce, as well as provide a better appreciation of the mills in their original context.

It should also encourage further residential redevelopment on currently vacant sites. In urban design terms, the redevelopment of such sites is obviously important, but it should be emphasized that in other cases, landscaped open spaces may be more appropriate.

In terms of economic activity, it is considered that, with further input into the area's basic infrastructure Ancoats will be particularly suitable for small business workshops or specific uses such as photographic, recording and graphic design studios, and media related activities.

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