Work on driving forward the restoration of fire-hit Wythenshawe Hall to its former glory is expected to begin in the spring of next year following the submission of planning application.
If planners give the green light, work will begin to rebuild the clock tower, and repair the roof and the exterior walls of the hall, which was badly damaged by fire in March.
The planning application is expected to be referred to the government for approval . Manchester City Council has been working with partners with their advisors Conservation Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Historic England, who will will ask the Secretary of State to endorse their recommendations.
Planning approval is necessary to officially permit the repair work because some elements cannot replaced exactly like-for-like. This is because conservation guidelines and practices have changed since the last repair programme undertaken in the 1950s.
Damaged timbers that remain sufficiently strong will remain. Those that aren’t will be salvaged as much as possible with new timber spliced in or bolted adjacent to the original material.
The fire will become part of the building’s official history, in line with current conservation best practice.
If planning consent is approved, and once a suitable contractor with the appropriate heritage skills is appointed, work on the Hall is expected to commence in spring 2017.
The insurance company is working alongside the council to determine the detail of the works and who will be appointed to do them. Subsequent applications will follow in relation to the proposed interior repairs.
Wythenshawe councillor, Sue Murphy – deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “So much work has gone on inside the Hall to protect it and salvage anything of architectural value, but it’s so heartening to reach a point where the repairs to the exterior of the building can begin.
“This is an important milestone for the local community who rallied to support the effort to save the property and the visible signs of the repair work will be a comfort to those who thought the fire could be the end for Wythenshawe Hall.”
Richard Jackson, chair of Friends of Wythenshawe Hall, said: “The Friends of Wythenshawe Hall have been on a roller coaster of emotions since March when it seemed as if Wythenshawe Hall may have suffered terminal damage in the fire.
“Now with the path to full restoration already well underway. The Friends would like to thank all those who have put so much effort into making sure the Hall in the not so distant future will open its doors to visitors once again.
Charles Smith, Heritage at Risk Principal in the North West said: “We are delighted that Manchester City Council has acted so proactively and positively following the tragic fire at Wythenshawe Hall, one of Manchester’s last surviving timber framed buildings. We look forward to being consulted formally on the planning application ahead of major repair works starting next year.”