FIND THE DOME!!!
Confidential Salford Star Heritage Crime Hotline: 07957 982960
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The demolition notice has been submitted to Salford Council for the iconic Salford Central United Reform Church, formerly known as the Salford Central Mission building.
The historic building on the corner of Broadway and Trafford Road, near MediaCityUK, might have been nationally listed and saved but for "neglect" and the `significant loss' of the dome which used to crown the entrance tower.
Many people in Salford might well ask how you can `lose' a great big dome from the top of a huge building. It's obviously been nicked. So where is it?
The proposed demolition of the Mission building comes as part of a planning application for the new Oasis MediaCityUK Academy which aims to plonk a car park on the site.
The old Mission is locally listed as of historic interest. But an application was submitted by Oasis UK in June 2008 to make the building "immune" from being protected by English Heritage, and to "preclude the local planning authority from serving a Building Preservation Notice on the building" for five years.
The Certificate of Immunity from Listing was subsequently granted. The Government's Heritage report stated that "the building's architectural integrity has…been compromised by the loss of the asymmetrically placed dome that originally surmounted the entrance tower and was a key feature of the original design. Its loss is significant, as it has compromised the visual impact and original character of the front elevation".
The main reason cited for the Mission's non-listing was "neglect" – including the "loss" of a rare rooftop playground, "a lack of maintenance" and the "removal of original fixtures and fittings" which have "not only compromised its interest but also resulted in the loss of the original fabric".
While Central Halls in Liverpool, Birmingham and London have all been listed nationally, Salford's Central Hall has basically been vandalised by its owners over the years and the "physical evidence of (its) multifunctional role is no longer legible internally due to the later alteration of spaces and the removal of original fixtures and fittings".
While rejecting the Mission's chances of being nationally listed, English Heritage did state that the old Mission "is clearly a local landmark building with an interesting social history and strong potential for adaptive reuse"…
Cue the very public statement by Councillor Derek Antrobus, Lead Member for Planning in February 2007 when he said of the plans for the Oasis Academy on the site of the Salford Mission "I'm not prepared to accept this unless there's a very clear commitment that the building will not be demolished".
At the time he told Oasis architects to go away and find a way of incorporating the old building into the school's designs. However, the Oasis Academy's school design and its planning application now only incorporate total demolition.
The planning application is accompanied by a report from Sheppard Robson Architects (some of it looking like it was done on the back of a fag packet – see photo) looking into the Mission's re-use as part of the school but rejects any notion of this for reasons of cost, design restrictions, suitability and image… "the integration potentially compromises the design and the impression that new Academy presents to the community".
Another report on behalf of the construction company Laing O'Rourke states that re-use of the Mission would run counter to the "image of the Academy"… it would "compromise…the external impression and perception (of) the Academy and its purpose, aims and objectives given to stakeholders, particularly given the emphasis on technology, media and association with MediaCityUK".
This all harks back to the original reasons for building the Oasis MediaCityUK Academy on a site that has a historic building, that has heavy congested traffic roaring by, and no room for playing fields. The site was chosen with "image" as a "fundamental priority" (see here for full details)…
Meanwhile, whoever nicked the Salford Mission's dome has got a lot to answer for…
Phone the Confidential Salford Star Heritage Crime Hotline - together we can stamp it out!
See also Listed Buildings Scandal here