At the beginning of the year, we reported a number of positive developments on our plans for the Co-operative Funeralcare site, which we are referring to as The Picture House. In particular, our constructive discussion with the planning team at Manchester City Council who were broadly supportive of our scheme, recognising that it retains the original Gaumont Cinema building which is now classed as a “non-designated heritage asset”.
On this basis, we submitted our final bid to Co-operative Group, with our development partners Brook Finch, hopeful that it would be taken forward. However, the initial response from the Group is that the commercial terms we have proposed are not sufficient for them to accept. However, they have kept the door open for us to revise the offer.
We are working hard to improve the terms of the bid but we continue to believe that our proposal is suitably competitive given that it seeks to retain the heritage asset and bring it back into community use. Ultimately, we cannot compete with the values that may result from demolishing the building and developing the site for exclusively residential. On this basis, we are continuing to engage with the Co-operative Group to find a way through with our proposal.
To this end, we have put together a summary of our bid that went to the Co-operative Group, so members and pledgers can get a better feel of our plans and why we believe it should be supported. We are working hard over the next few weeks to reach agreement and expect a final decision will be reached by the end of April latest. We will update members and pledgers accordingly.