City landmark to be restored

Landmark building: The Harris Institute was built with money from solicitor Edmund Harris
Landmark building: The Harris Institute was built with money from solicitor Edmund Harris
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Restoration plans have been put forward for a landmark Preston building.

The Grade II listed Harris Institute in Avenham was sold by the University of Central Lancashire to multi-millionaire tycoon Yousuf Bhailok in June 2009.

Concerns had been raised about the building falling into disrepair, after UCLan stopped scheduling performing arts classes there in 2007 and it lay empty for 18 months before being bought at auction for almost £300,000.

Now, with the aim of turning the Harris into an Islamic education centre, plans have been put forward to Preston Council for listed building consent to restore the 19th century building to its former glory.

A design statement, submitted on behalf of applicants Darul ULoom Lancashire, says: “The proposed works will refurbish the building back to its original state, making the building fit for purpose as an educational facility once more.

“The building will become an Islamic graduation centre for male students, aged 16 to 19, to provide education at A-level standard.

“Minimal works are proposed for the internal spaces, with repair work where necessary and internal partitions added in places.

“Original architectural features of interest have been identified by a conservation officer and so care will be taken to ensure these are retained.

“Features that are visible externally - windows and doors - will be repaired, sensitive to the context of the building.”

The repair work would also include fixing damp on interior walls, mending the roof and columns, and replastering damaged walls.

The Harris Institute, on Avenham Lane, was funded by benefactor Edmund Harris, on the stipulation it would be used for educational purposes.

It was built in 1846-49 with cash from the wealthy solicitor.

UCLan put the building up for sale in 2009 after moving its performing arts students to a new £15m facility at the main campus.

English Heritage had placed it on its ‘buildings at risk’ register in 2009 amid worries a buyer would not be found quickly.

Mr Bhailok has said the Grade II listed building would become “a beacon” for studies in the Islamic community.

He also owns Harris Park in Fulwood.