The two hundred year old, Grade II listed Islington Mill, off the Islington estate, launched a refurbishment plan four years ago to safeguard the future of the building with an ambitious scheme costing over £2million.
The plan was for the crumbling roof to be repaired, a new lift to be fitted to make the upper floors DDA compliant, a redevelopment of the fifth and sixth floors to create work space for artists in residence, a B&B and exhibition space; and, probably most important for the local community, a new public facing entrance to improve access, rather than the imposing closed door that's currently in place.
In 2013, the then Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, wrote a letter to Arts Council England (ACE) confirming that Salford City Council would contribute £350,000 in match funding for the scheme, plus £15,000 funds for 'pre-implementation work' – but didn't include any details or timescales in it. Next week, however, the Council is set to approve a formal agreement so that the refurbishment can finally go ahead.
As well as the Council finance, the Mill now has £928,000 funding in place from the Arts Council but is still short of its target to complete the whole £2.043million scheme.
The report to be seen by councillors next week states that fundraising trouble at t'Mill delayed implementation but this has now been sorted and the refurbishment will be done over two phases, with the fit-out of the fifth and sixth floors to be in Phase 2.
Phase 1 works are estimated to total £1,542,710, with confirmed funding in place of £1,431,415. This leaves a gap of £111,295 but the Arts Council will allow work to start with 90% of funding in place, leaving a gap of £38,024. The Mill expects reduced contractor and design costs to bridge this gap.
Phase 2 fit-out works are estimated to cost £500,790, with £118,000 funding in place, leaving a full gap of £382,790, and a gap of £344,511 to reach the Arts Council's 90% target..."the specification for the fit out may be amended to enable the works to be delivered with the funding that has been secured" states the report.
Salford Council did consider withdrawing its funding from the project but decided that "The condition of Islington Mill (a Grade II Listed Building) is steadily deteriorating. This poses a serious risk to the future of IMAC [Islington Mill Art Club] as an organisation and this Grade II listed building's future if the refurbishment works cannot be delivered in the very near future."
Next week, the Council is finally set to produce a formal funding agreement which should secure the Mill's future and community profile.
The Mill itself, having raised a staggering £271,415 itself through an innovative Save Islington Mill fundraising campaign - which include the segmented sale of a unique artwork by Maurice Carlin, and benefit gigs by the likes of Mr Scruff – still has to raise around £494,085 to complete the whole refurbishment.
To donate to the Mill – click here
For full background see the previous Salford Star article on Islington Mill – click here (the figures quoted in this article have changed)