Heritage Works undertook a Consultation process with community stakeholders and the general public to stimulate a wide-ranging debate on the future of the building.
Feedback from an initial stage of consultation was submitted to the design team who produced seven building form options demontsrating alternative configurations of extensions and new build. There were then deiffierent options for how the many uses could be distributed through the building/s. Three approaches to dealing with the canal inside the building were suggested, inlcuding flooring over it completely. These option sketches were displayed on this website, in a shop window in Whaley Bridge and in the library, Foosteps café and the Mechanics Institute. We asked people to tell us what they liked and disliked about the suggestions by filling in an online form or questionnaire.
With this feedback, and with the aid of the community steering group, we were then able to reduce the number of preferred options to four. These four options were developed further and are labelled Options W - Z below.
In the final feasibility study report, the project team has recommended that options Y1, Y2 and Z are explored further with planning authorities and potential funders. The consultant team errs towards a preference for option Y2 (over Y1 or Z) in design terms, as this does not make a permanent intervention into the historic building, provides sufficient complementary accommodation to make the overall development sustainable and creates a defined new external public space between the new and old buildings, with lively uses to spill into it. Options W and X are discounted, as these are not cost effective. Option W provides a short term 'fix' to repair the building shell but does not facilitate re-use. Option X cannot be justified as the total project cost of around £1.5m will only create sufficient accommodation to produce an annual rental return of around £32,000.
Existing building mothballed: essential repairs only. Total cost: £175,000
This is the 'do nothing' option - just emergency repairs, and possible letting of the garage in the northwest corner of the Warehouse, for garage or storage use. A schedule of emergency repairs has been drawn up and costed. These items need attention within twelve months.
Existing building refurbishment. Total cost £1,500,000. End value: £320,000
The Warehouse as a standalone building,fully restored (new roof, new windows etc), but with the north end (only) brought back into use. This is intended to be a commercial scheme, developed by a private sector partner. A café in the northeast corner of the site may spill onto a pontoon deck on the canal (in the 'tunnel' under the first floor). The northwest corner provides an entrance, lift and stairs to open-plan office accommodation on the first floor. It is assumed that the café and office suite will be leased to two separate tenants on reasonable-length leases from the developer or British Waterways. It is possible that the 'developer' could be British Waterways itself, or a Building Preservation Trust. (The BPT would need to have a long lease from British Waterways to do this.) As an alternative to the office accommodation, the first floor could provide a 3-bedroom holiday apartment. Having lift access and spacious accommodation, this would be suitable for disabled holiday-makers. The apartment could be a serviced apartment (daily sheet-changing like a hotel), or a 'traditional' holiday let. The operator could be a private enterprise (someone who already runs holiday cottages in the village, a hotelier (i.e. the Jodrell), or British Waterways or a community development trust. A store or management office on the ground floor provides space for linen, cleaning materials etc, and also for the landlord or site manager of the whole site.
New building alongside existing. Total cost (option Y2): £2,324,500. End value: £657,000. Grant required to bridge deficit: £1,667,500.
A new building is proposed along the back of pavement edge, straddling the change of level between Market Street and the Warehouse / canal basin.
There are two alternative forms for the new building - a parallel-sided box, parallel to the back of pavement (Option Y1), or a wedge-shaped box with its west wall along the back of pavement and its east wall parallel to the Warehouse elevation (Option Y2). In both cases, the uses inside are library on the upper/street level, and commercial on the lower level. The commercial space could be offices or leisure-related retail (bike hire, etc), in single tenancy or as lock-up units.
The Warehouse in Option Y has a café in the northwest corner as for Option X, and either offices or the 3-bed 6-person holiday apartment on the first floor, entered from the northwest corner.
The level of public access provided in this scheme may assist in securing
grant funding - i.e. library and holiday let uses. The level of access into
the Warehouse cannot be specified, until the management of the space is
sorted out. A building preservation trust or community development trust
route may attract grant funding for the scheme as a whole, and with this
will come the requirement for some sort of programme for regular use of
the main Warehouse itself.
Side extension with glazed link. Total cost: £2,600,000. End value: £555,000. Grant requirement therefore: £2,045,000.
A two-storey attached extension along the full length of the Warehouse on the west side provides the opportunity for a landmark architectural solution. The ground floor at the south end offers a new public access to the Warehouse via a relocated public library, facilitating integrated public access to community facilities, exhibition and event space. The upper floor provides commercial office space, which, together with one unit at the rear of the ground floor and the first floor space at the north end of the Warehouse, offers flexible office space that will appeal to 'blue chip' businesses.
Finally, the design team has considered how to deal with the canal and the uneven wharf floors inside the Warehouse building, if it is to be used for 'market hall' type uses. The sketches show:
a) Floating Pontoon 'Floor'
A floating pontoon in the canal, that can be drawn out into the basin when the canal needs to be dredged of silt but is otherwise permanently fixed.
b) New Raised Floor with glass over canal
A floor structure on top of the wharf areas that continues over the canal (perhaps glazed in the middle so the water is visible, and somehow removable for dredging). The historic cobble and railway tracks would be protected but invisible, and the floor surface flat and safe for all kinds of uses.
c) Moored narrow boat as cafe/bar
A barge moored inside the building as a floating café in the canal - completely 'reversible', with no impact on the building.