Slow progress for Winstanley Hall as owners weigh up options..

The owners of Historic Winstanley Hall, which is falling to rack and ruin, have said they are still working on a "financially viable" future for the site - 18 years after buying it. Winstanley Hall, a Grade II listed building which lies on the edge of Winstanley Park, has been propelled back into the spotlight recently after quietly deteriorating for the best part of 20 years. Campaigners have shown recently renewed interest in the site, which they fear may become too dilapidated to save if action is not taken soon by Dorbcrest - who purchased the hall in 2000 from landowner Tim Banks.

In a bid to speed up the process, concerned residents contacted Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, who in turn requested an update on the proposals for the building - parts of which date back to the 1500s. Rebecca Heron, director of economy and skills for Wigan Council, responded to the request, saying: "An options appraisal has been produced by Purcells funded by Dorbcrest, Tim Banks and Historic England. As Winstanley Hall is a privately owned site, it is now the responsibility of the owners to progress the application. "Dorbcrest inform us that they are still working to progress a financially viable scheme. A planning application has not yet been submitted but we are seeking clarity on when this is expected." Ms Fovargue, however, had already been informed of the pending options appraisal almost two years ago in February 2017, at which time Dorbcrest said it had put forward funding and was awaiting the report from Purcells.

Ms Fovargue MP said: "Many people care passionately about Winstanley Hall and it is depressing to see the current state of this Grade II listed Elizabethan Hall which dates to the 16th century. "Whilst it is good news that the options appraisal process has been completed, I very much hope that the site owners can now progress a planning application that can bring the Hall back in to productive use." The housing firm proposed to demolished the site in 2011, but heritage group "Save" intervened and promised to carry out repair work on its behalf. Local splinter group, Friends of Winstanley Hall, raised £250,000 in donations from English Heritage, the Country House Foundation, The Georgian Group and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Written by: Rachel Howarth, Wigan Observer, Friday 08 February 2019..

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