The iconic building that played a monumental role in the start of the Bee Gees' musical career now faces demolition after a community group said their bid to save it has been rejected.
In November, the Chorlton Community Land Trust (CCLT) launched a community bid to save the former Gaumont building on Manchester Road in Chorlton , which is currently owned by Co-Operative Funeralcare.
The campaign outlined plans to convert the building into a market-style food hall that would have performance space for live music and cinema screenings.
The plans would have recognised the building for the part it played in Manchester’s musical history.
But CCLT now say that their bid has been rejected by the Co-operative Group .
At the time of the bid, CCLT’s Chris Peacock said that, despite being a funeral home, fans would come from all over the world to get their pictures taken outside the building.
The building, which was built 100 years ago this year, was where the Gibb brothers’ first band The Rattlesnakes made their live debut in 1957.
The Bee Gees were formed a year later and would go on to sell more than 120 million records worldwide.
CCLT had managed to raise more than £370k from over 1,000 pledgers in just ten days.
The total offer was raised to £2.2m thanks to interest from development partners.
“We will lose a historic building of scale with many years of life left in it,” the CCLT said in a blog post on their website.
“We will lose the potential to create a vibrant hub of new commercial activity. We will lose a link to our musical heritage. And, we will lose an opportunity for the community to shape development at the heart of the place they live.”
CCLT say the Co-operative Group told them the reasoning behind the unsuccessful bid was ‘principally due to price’.
The trust believe their bid was only £400k less than what retirement home developer Churchill offered for the site.
The plan to turn the site into 40 private retirement flats now looks likely to go ahead.
“We knew all along it would take more than gestures to pull this off,” CCLT added.
“That’s why we worked hard to conduct ourselves in a professional and commercially-minded way.
“The Co-op has title over a historic building in our community with a story to tell and long future ahead of it. They just couldn’t open their lens to see that and help us secure it.”
The trust also told the M.E.N that another reason their bid was rejected was based on deliverability.
"This is hardly surprising as we were rushed into an arrangement to match their pre-set timetable," member Simon Hooton said.
"Nevertheless, we worked hard to establish a commercial proposition that our developer-partner was prepared to back with their own substantial investment."
The trust says it will continue its battle for the site and will ‘lodge every possible objection’.
“We know there is a commitment to make Chorlton a better place and we are determined to keep agitating for change,” Simon added.
“We want the City Council to take us seriously and support our efforts to develop a shared community plan for the heart of Chorlton.
"We want to work with other landowners and developers to help secure balanced growth and a vibrant heart for the place we live.”
"The Co-op have not explained how they plan to secure an outcome that benefits the community or which secures the heritage of the site. The proposed Churchill bid does not meet these objectives.
"The Chorlton Land Trust is ready to work with the Co-op to take plans forward that benefit the community and secure the heritage of the site."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for The Co-op said that no contract had yet been signed for the site.
“Throughout this process we’ve looked to ensure an outcome which would benefit the community and a solution for the site which is deliverable and sustainable.
“At our last meeting with The Chorlton Land Trust we expressed a number of concerns in relation to their overall proposal which were not around the value of their bid.
“Contrary to their comments, however, we have not yet reached a final decision in relation to the site and we are continuing to look at options which ensuring the heritage of the site and its ultimate end use, benefit the local community.
“We have not entered into any contract with a preferred bidder and discussions around the future of the site are ongoing.”
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