Chorlton Irish Club has been saved by a sale that retains the club building while selling part of the car park to build affordable apartments.
Southway Housing Trust has bought part of the car park next to the community centre to build 29 affordable apartments in a deal that will see the building retained and allow the club to pay off its debts.
The Irish World revealed last year that the club’s owners, a group of four trustees, had appointed agency Colliers to sell the site, located off High Lane and Cross Road.
Members had feared that the sale would result in the loss of the club, which was founded in 1956, but, under the terms of the deal with housing association Southway, the value of which was not disclosed, the two-storey building will not be demolished.
Didsbury-based Southway plans to build the homes on part of the car park next to the club and construction could begin early in 2022, subject to local consultation and planning approval. Completion of the scheme is expected in early 2024.
Karen Mitchell, chief executive of Southway Housing Trust, said: “We understand the importance of the club to the area. As a not-for-profit organisation, our proposal has the social and economic interests of the area at its heart.
“By purchasing the car park area only, we are providing the vendors of this historic club with a much-needed resource, while converting under-used brownfield land into a socially responsible venture that will provide housing for local people.”
A representative of the trustees said: “The Trustees are extremely happy with this result and to be working with a reputable local developer such as Southway Housing. The agreement will see affordable housing provided within the community, enable IASC to clear all their debts and see the club and some parking retained for the benefit and future use of its members”.
A joint statement from the trustees and Southway stated: “A housing association in south Manchester, Southway Housing Trust, together with the Trustees of the Irish Association Social Club (IASC), have reached an agreement that brings much needed affordable housing to the area and saves the Club’s historic building.
“The Trustees appointed Colliers International to manage the sale, with the team successfully securing a strong and innovative proposal from Southway Housing to purchase only part of the under-utilised car park area, which fully supported the Trustee’s objective of achieving the very best result for the IASC.
“Southway Housing intends to deliver a 100% affordable scheme of 29 high quality apartments for people in housing need, within an area of very high demand. Work on the project will begin early in 2022 subject to extensive local consultation, with completion expected early 2024.
“Further details to follow in due course.”
The south Manchester club was founded in the 1950s as a meeting place for the Irish community and counted Sir Matt Busby among its members.
In 2019, it became known that the club was in danger of closing permanently due to financial problems. In March 2019 the venue known as Irish Association Social Club ceased trading and a new club The Chorlton Irish Club began trading.
However, the building was put up for sale in April last year in order to pay off the club’s debts.
Any potential sale has always been contentious with a Facebook group known as Friends of Chorlton Irish gaining more than 900 followers. While campaigning to save the club, the Facebook group have continually complained that the trustees have not communicated with the club’s members.
However, the Trustees have issued statements saying the members will be updated on developments as they occur.
A spokesperson for Friends of Chorlton Irish said of the news: “The news raises more questions than it answers.
“Members want to know the details of the deal along with a breakdown of the club’s debt. And most importantly, what are the Trustees’ intentions now: will they hand back control to an elected committee as required by the club’s
“The Trustees must contact the club’s members directly and fulfil the public commitments that were made in October.
“In summary – as there are no details about the deal, future proposals, or the finances of the club, it would seem premature to say the club is saved just yet.”