A firm of specialist consultant partners who are experts in reimagining historic buildings for sustainable future use have been engaged by Knutsford Town Council with the aim of securing a significant investment to renovate and breath fresh life into its property at 60 King Street.
The consultants, who have supported the regeneration of historic buildings across the UK, will be assisting the council in creating a costed business case and options for the building to operate sustainably. The council is looking to secure a significant Heritage Lottery Fund grant to regenerate the Grade II* listed building and bring it into operation as a mixed-use community, civic and commercial space.
This early consultancy phase of work, including the exploration of options and the development of funding sources is being completed by the consultants on the basis that compensation and future work is subject to funding success.
“We are looking at an exciting new approach to bring this iconic building back to life” said Town Mayor, Cllr Stewart Gardiner “Over the coming months we will be working with our consultants to develop proposals for the building and are optimistic about our prospects of securing funding to rejuvenate one of the town’s landmark buildings”
60 King Street was formerly home to La Belle Epoque but has been vacant since June 2019 when that company went into administration. Over the past two years the Council has sought to obtain a new tenant through national estate agents Savills and had been in negotiation with a prospective tenant. Negotiations folded in early 2021 with the business withdrawing due to the scale of investment required in the building which similarly deterred other potential tenants.
The Council was then faced with the tough decision of either selling the building or needing to borrow significant monies to fund upfront repairs. A report prepared by surveying firm Fisher German highlighted a likely expenditure in excess of £675,000 being required in the next 10 years as the 116-year-old building requires re-roofing, in addition to render and stonework repairs plus the renewal of a concrete deck amongst a range of other smaller works. The building also needs a new heating system not to mention extensive redecoration owing to the building being left in a very poor internal condition by the former tenant.
“Our goal with 60 King Street has been for it to be in active use, good repair and to deliver a surplus for the council to reduce the precept. We were naturally disappointed that it was not possible to secure a tenant for the whole building due to its condition.” said Cllr Peter Coan, Chairman of the Assets and Operations Committee.
“We are hopeful that this new approach will secure a sustainable future for the building, and we have engaged the consultants on terms which ensure that if they are unable to win funding there will be no cost to the Council.”
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