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Campaign to save the Harris Institute as iconic Preston building goes up for sale

Posted on - 4th January, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Avenham, Campaigns, Charities, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Redevelopment
A postcard if the Harris Institute during its time of operation Pic: Preston Digital Archive
A postcard of the Harris Institute during its time of operation Pic: Preston Digital Archive

One of Preston’s most iconic buildings is up for sale.

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The Harris Institute School of Art has been listed at £350,000 and a group of local people has set out to save it.

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The imposing entrance of The Harris School of Art sits opposite Avenham Colonnade, within short walking distance of Winckley Square and the city centre.

In recent years, the Institute was operated as the Darul Uloom Islamic Institute but closed after a year of operation and the building has stood empty since 2014 after planning consents were turned down.

The building's main stairwell. Photo taken in April 2022. Pic Lisa Brown
The building’s main stairwell. Photo taken in April 2022. Pic Lisa Brown

The Grade II listed former art college was built between 1846 and 1849 and was the Preston Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge – which eventually became the University of Central Lancashire.

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Due to the decline of the Victorian building, Historic England has kept the Harris Institute on Avenham Lane on the ‘at risk’ register of listed buildings.

Skylight windows in the Harris Institute School of Art. Photo taken April 2022. Pic Lisa Brown
Skylight windows in the Harris Institute School of Art. Photo taken April 2022. Pic Lisa Brown

However, a group of local people – The Friends of the Harris School of Art – has set out to save it.

By forming a Community Interest Company and offering shares to its members, the Friends hope to buy the building and run it as a community based project.

A group of local architects, solicitors and construction companies are involved including Studio John Bridge, David Cox Architects, and Conlon Construction.

John Edward Turner is spearheading the campaign, and has met with the trustees of the Bolton Darul Uloom.

“They are keen to see the building re-opened,” said John.

“Last year, the trustees allowed us to open the building up to the public and conduct tours as part of the Heritage Open Days weekend. We would like to raise the profile of the Friends group and get more volunteers on board to start fundraising.”

The Friends of the Harris School of Art have held Heritage Open Days to raise the buildings profile and encourage people to get involved in saving the building. Pic Lisa Brown
The Friends of the Harris School of Art have held Heritage Open Days to raise the profile of the building and encourage people to join the Friends group. Pic Lisa Brown

The building is being marketed by Fletcher Cre Ltd, Bolton, and details that it is ‘suitable for a variety of uses subject to the necessary planning consents’ and it requires ‘complete refurbishment’.

View the full listing on the Right Move website.

Find out more about the Friends of the Harris School of Art on their Facebook page.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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