Updated plans approved for historic Stanley buildings

Friday, 5 July 2024 11:26

By Shelagh Parkinson - Local Democracy Reporting Service

Proposals to upgrade a historic town centre building have had to be pared back after developers found more damage than expected.

Work began in February this year to transform the art deco Stanley Buildings into a modern business hub as part of a £7.5m investment due to be completed by spring next year.

A like-for-like replacement of faience tiles, which cover the upper floors of the building, had been proposed. But the number of damaged blocks has been found to have more than doubled to 235 compared to the 99 originally identified.

Replacing so many of the glazed tiles would cost too much, so it has been decided to use sandstone alternatives instead. Town hall planners have approved the changes despite the fact the building is in a conservation area.

A council report says “further survey work has identified that the building is in a poorer condition than previously appreciated” but the proposed sandstone alternative “is a good visual match for the Darwen Terracotta faience”.

As the changes are higher up on the building, the switch will not be noticeable.

The report adds: “Whilst the use of an alternative block is unfortunate, this harm is considered to be less than substantial harm to the significance of the building or the conservation area.

“The public benefits of bringing the upper floors back into beneficial use and refurbishing the building to safeguard its’ future, outweighs that harm.”

The scheme will see the Stanley Buildings, built in 1935, converted into 44 offices and meeting rooms with flexible co-worker space on the ground floor.

Situated between Caunce Street, Church Street and Cookson Street, the building was designed by renowned borough architect John Charles Robinson, famous for former civic landmarks including Derby Baths and South Shore Open Air Baths.

Restoration includes roof replacement, installation of new windows to all upper floors, brick repair and render, and restoration and cleaning of exterior faience and mosaic tiles. Initially, eight shopfronts will be fully replaced with the aim of restoring all shopfronts when funding is available. Air source heat pumps and solar panels will be fitted to power the office spaces.

The project is being funded by a combination of £4.5m from the Town Deal, £2.8m from the council and £200k from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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