A STUNNING Grade II* listed building in Leicester city centre has secured a £750k grant to carry out urgent work to save its roof.
The ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Leicester building on the corner of Granby Street and Bishop Street, is the former headquarters of the Leicestershire Banking Corporation and one of the most iconic Victorian masterpieces of architect Joseph Goddard.
However, the poor condition of the structure means it is on the national Buildings at Risk Register – its roof is in poor condition, with water getting into the building and jeopardising its historic interior décor.
ISKCON has raised £350k towards the cost of works, but it isn’t sufficient to cover the vast extent of the work required to repair the building.
Now funding has been made available via Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to help finance the work.
Back in February 2020 it announced £1.5m of funding for work in both the Granby Street and Church Gate conservation areas, of which £250k was earmarked for the ISKCON scheme. Now Historic England has announced a further £500k to support the project and ensure the urgent repairs can be carried out fully.
In addition to the £750k from the HSHAZ funds, ISKCON itself is contributing over £325k towards the roof repairs, which will cost over £1m.
The decision over funding follows extensive work between Leicester City Council’s conservation team, ISKCON and Historic England.
Leicester’s HSHAZ grants panel is chaired deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who is also the city’s heritage champion.
He said: “Having visited this building to see the extent of the work needed, it was clear that the damage to the roof was far worse than anticipated, and the costs of repair higher than anyone first thought.
“Historic England have increased our grant to enable us to fund the work needed, rather than allowing further damage to be caused to this important local landmark.
“We have a duty to take care of the city’s historic buildings to ensure they are preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
Contractors Lang are due to start work on site in November, led by conservation architects Donald Insall Associates, along with structural engineers DCA Consultants and quantity surveyors PMP Consultants.
ISKCON will be responsible for the project and will claim funding from the council retrospective to the works. The conservation team will carry out regular inspections to ensure the quality of the work.
In total, the project will include installing an internal scaffold, called a birdcage, to allow access into the glass lantern. Rotten timbers will be replaced. The timbers, masonry and slate will be saved and reused where possible.
UPVC guttering will be replaced with cast iron, parapet walls will be rebuilt and a new lightning conductor system will be installed.
The ceiling will be repaired using a lime plaster, and the Georgian wired glazing in the glass lantern will be replaced with laminated safety glazing.
Pradyumna Pradip Gajjar, president of ISKCON Leicester, said: “This is amazing news for ISKCON Leicester, because it now means we can secure the building - make it air and water tight, offer it a completely new roof and take it off the risk register.
“Once the roof works are complete, we can focus on developing the ground floor, and bring that back into full public use for the people of the city. I'm grateful to the city council and Historic England for considering our project as part of the heritage uplift in the city centre.
“It means so much to ISKCON and to all the people who absolutely love this building.”
The High Street Heritage Action Zone is part of a national programme supported by Historic England that will see some of the most important historic shopfronts and buildings in Granby Street and Church Gate repaired, restored and spruced up.
Historic England’s Leicester HSHAZ lead, Hannah Reynolds, added: “Historic England has been involved at 31 Granby Street for a number of years, working with the society and local authority to find a solution for the immediate repair needs of the building; we are delighted to be able to support this project through the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.
“We look forward to continuing to work with all parties to support the wider aspirations of the society, including bringing the vacant areas into viable use for the benefit of the wider community and to help secure the building’s future.”
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