Fears grow over plan for Historic Winstanley Hall..

A campaign to save an historic Wigan landmark has been reignited as residents call for answers over the site's future before it becomes too ruined to rescue. Members of the Save Winstanley Hall Group are asking for a public meeting to be held to discuss the future of the 500-year-old building. Grade II* listed Winstanley Hall, which lies on the edge of Winstanley Park, has been the subject of campaigners' interests for years as many are concerned it will eventually become too dilapidated to save, but efforts had died down over the past few months. The building, which was bought along with 10 acres of land from the Banks family by Dorbcrest in 2000, has lay derelict for more than 18 years with no signs of any work beginning in the near future. It has been widely reported that Dorbcrest bought the building, once occupied by The Winstanley Family, with the intention of turning it into flats, however the town hall has confirmed that plans were never submitted.

Over the centuries the hall has undergone alterations and extensions, and in the early 19th century architect, Lewis Wyatt, redesigned the interior moving the entrance to the south west and designed the stable block. But the state of the building has been in serious decline for many years, since it became unoccupied in the early 1980s. Philip Whitehead, an 18-year-old Liverpool John Moores student, has sparked a new interest in the campaign group after coming across it during research for his real estate management degree. "This building is an iconic building within the area," he said. "There is a future for this building and it has just been left to rot and decay. I can't believe the state of it." Philip said that he is shocked that Dorbcrest have "done nothing" to restore the building in the 15 years since its purchase. He thinks that the company is more interested in the land, which is in a prime location near the M6 and M58. However, Wigan Council has since confirmed that it has never received an application for proposals to flatten the building. Three years ago, Save Britain's Heritage stepped in to offer a £250,000 grant along with other heritage organisations, but still no work has begun.

Dorbcrest have remained tight-lipped about the plans and did not reply when contacted by the Observer. Wigan Council says it will work with them once again to try and find a solution for the historic hall. Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing at Wigan Council said: "We are aware of local feeling around this privately owned building and understand its importance to the community. "We have been in discussions with the owners to discuss the future of the estate and will make contact with the Save Winstanley Hall Group." A meeting will take place on February 9th to discuss plans to save the hall, but details of a venue have not yet been released. The land surrounding the Hall is still owned by the Banks family..

Written by: Rachel Howarth, Wigan Observer, Friday 01 February 2019.



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