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Campaigners lose battle to save hall

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THE battle to save Warrington’s historic Bewsey Old Hall for future generations has been lost.
Plans to convert the hall into apartments and construct an enabling development of 48 apartments in the grounds of the Grade 2 listed hall have been given the go-ahead, following a public inquiry which ended earlier this month.
Manchester-based urban renewal specialists Urban Splash have won their appeal against Warrington Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning consent.
The decision was greeted with dismay by campaigners.
Coun Linda Dirir, one of the leading objectors, said: “We are absolutely dismayed.
“This is an appalling decision. Bewsey Old Hall is one of the last bits of our heritage.”
The borough council refused planning permission for the changes on the grounds the proposals would be out of character with the area and would deny public access to one of the town’s most historic buildings.
But there was also opposition on the grounds of a loss of green space, increased traffic congestion and a disregard for the heritage site.
Coun Dirir (pictured) said the only hope now was that the borough council could work with Urban Splash and site owners the Homes and Communities Agency to secure a scheme that would preserve some part of the hall for community use.
She said: “The hall is close to the Sankey Canal, which itself is of huge historic importance as, probably, the first canal ever built in the country.
“There are plans to restore the canal, which is about 13-miles long. Bewsey Old Hall provides a point of interest along the canal.
“If part of it could be used as a restaurant or tea room it could be used by people walking along the canal or using Sankey Valley Park.
“I do hope the council can find a way of working with the developer and the Homes and Communities Agency to preserve some part of the building for community use.”
Bewsey Old Hall is arguably Warrington’s most historic building. But despite various attempts to bring it back into use, it has stood virtually unused and in a deteriorating condition for many years..
The hall was originally built by William Fitz Almeric le Boteler and was home to the Lords of Warrington from the 13th Century. It was purchased by the former Warrington New Town Development Corporation in the late 60s or early 70s when some restoration work was carried out.
In 1997 a campaign was launched to turn it into a tourist attraction- but came to nothing.

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

6 Comments

  1. Just wondering if the Planning Inspector has awarded costs against the Council, if so, how much are they, and will the objectors be asked to pick up the tab.

  2. How sad? When you think that normal Joe Public have to jump through hoops to get permission to make any alterations to their homes if they are Grade II listed but a big developer can just come along and pretty much do what they want. Shame on the committee who let this go ahead.

  3. why work along side them…surely a compulsary purchase order and the return it to the hands of warringtons herritage society (if we have one).

    why is the current warrington council allowing warrington to be torn apart, whats next pull down the town hall for another tesco ?

  4. With regards to shame, it was the Planning Inspector, acting on behalf f the Secretary of State, not the Council’s Planning Committee who let this go ahead.

  5. The council shouldn’t have ‘sold’ it in the first place – IT WASN’T THEIRS TO ‘SELL’ !!!

    Although I agree in this instance the blame is now sitting on the planning inspectors shoulders……. PAST BLAME STILL SITS ON THE COUNCIL’S SHOULDERS THOUGH AND IT ALWAYS WILL for allowing yet another important piece of Warrington’s Heritage to be destroyed.

    I notice WBC have given the go ahead for Warrington’s Victorian Baths to be demolished this week too…… they didn’t give that away they just SWAPPED IT !!!!

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