Plans to create a permanent Joy Division exhibition in the town have been dealt a major blow after a failed bid for funding.

It has now been revealed that the proposed venue for the display - Charles Roe House - has been sold to a private bidder who will turn it into a GP surgery.

But it is hoped there will still be room for a Joy Division exhibit with plans for an arts cafe on the second floor.

Arts group Incubation Arts hoped to buy the listed building on Chestergate, which was home to Macclesfield entrepreneur Charles Roe, and convert it into an arts hub and exhibition to celebrate Joy Division’s link to the town.

But a grant bid to Heritage Lottery Fund has been knocked back, leaving the ambitious plans with an uncertain future.

Julie Hamer, from Incubation Arts, said she was ‘dismayed’ to learn the grant had been refused but said it will be regarded as a ‘set-back’.

She said: “Incubation Arts, having been so successful with arts and cultural exhibitions and events over the past three years, were dismayed to learn last month that the Heritage Lottery Fund had declined its application

to support Incubation’s aims with Charles Roe House.

“We’re fundraising and looking for a new venue and hope anyone with ideas will assist us.”

The previous owner, Martin McMillan, had been allowing Incubation Arts to use the building for shows and exhibitions and supported the bid for a Joy Division exhibition.

But without the grant he has decided to sell the building.

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Ian Pinches, who owns business consultancy Cambio group with a base in Macclesfield, and his GP wife Stephanie, bought the house and plans to create a private GP surgery on the ground floor and use it for office space.

Ian, who lives in Whaley Bridge, told the Express he will also create an art cafe on the second floor, and is in talks with Julie about running arts events – and this could still include a Joy Division exhibition.

Ian said: “The property has been on the market for years and people may have been put off by the fact it’s listed, but we feel it’s a wonderful building integral to the character of Macclesfield.

“We want to keep Charles Roe House accessible to the public with an art cafe, which can feature local artists.

“The Joy Division exhibition may not be as grand as before but we can come up with a plan where Charles Roe House remains a place for the arts and a major part of Macclesfield’s heritage.”

Martin McMillan, deputy chairman of the Halle orchestra, has owned the building since 1978.

He said: “I have a soft spot for Charles Roe and am parting with it with sadness but hope it can remain an arts and cultural building.”

Ian Pinches, who has bought Charles Roe House, is pictured with Charlotte Condliffe, office manager and Rosie Zahoor (back), medical scientist from Cambio group