Church of Scientology rekindles bid to transform Old Trafford site

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The Church of Scientology has rekindled a plan to transform the former Duckworth’s Old Trafford Essence Distillery into a hub for worship. Leaders of the religious group have submitted a new application to carry out external and internal works to the Grade II-listed building on Chester Road, Trafford, which dates back to 1896.

A design and access statement, written on behalf of the church by NJSR Chartered Architects, proposes a comprehensive revamp of the building. “The overall aim of the project is the refurbishment and conversion of the Duckworth Essences Building into a place of religious study and worship,” it says.

“Given the complexity of the existing building, and its dilapidated condition, the client has decided to split the works into two phases – one, to ‘arrest the decline]’ and two, the conversion and fit-out of the interior.” The document says that most of the work will involve ‘no changes’ to the building’s design, although there are minor changes to make ongoing maintenance easier.

Included in the application is the comprehensive re-roofing of the building, a lightning protection system and roof access via hatches and automatic opening vents. There will also be repair and where necessary replacement of brickwork terracotta, leadwork, windows and rooflights.

Parapet walls, chimneys and part of the east annex will be rebuilt and previously blocked windows will be reopened. The church first tabled proposals to convert the building in 2007, but later withdrew the application. Planning consent was granted in 2019 but it lapsed without the work taking place.

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