Jodrell Bank wants to alter listed building to improve the visitor experience

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JODRELL Bank has applied for planning permission to alter a Grade II listed building to improve the visitor experience.

The observatory at Lower Withington wants to carry out internal and external alterations to the Park Royal Building, which is on the south side of the site.

A heritage statement submitted to Cheshire East Council by the University of Manchester detailing the proposals states: “The works to these buildings are part of a new masterplan strategy which will extend the visitor experience to the south side of Jodrell Bank Observatory.

“The south side holds a collection of buildings, historically used for conducting science experiments and other university related activities.

“The visitor experience, via guided tours, will allow the public to interact with and appreciate the rich history the south side has to offer.”

According to the document, the Park Royal Building requires minor modifications to improve the function of the building due to the relocation of equipment from other buildings, and also be suitable for site visits on the guided tours.

The work includes the removal of some internal partition walls, doors and frames.

The building is a single-storey hut which was used as a control room.

It was built in 1949, with a small extension added in 1963-64, to house scientific apparatus, laboratories and research offices.

It was listed in July 2017 because of its historic significance as one of the earliest, purpose-built auxiliary buildings at the observatory, built as the control building for the 218ft Transit Telescope.

It was then adapted for use as the control building for its replacement, the Mark II Telescope, the first telescope in the world to be controlled by computer.

The applicant states: “The proposed work will have no negative architectural impact on the building and only seeks to adapt spaces to improve the function of the building and improve accessibility for staff and visitors to appreciate the history of the site.”

The application is due to be determined by a planning officer under delegated authority at the beginning of November.