LANGWORTHY HOTEL – a demolition odyssey…
Surely the most ironic title ever for a newsletter circulating in Langworthy and Seedley was `Making It Better'. Bursting with propaganda about how fab the regeneration of the area would be, exactly nine years ago the glossy newsletter featured an article about the Langworthy Hotel…
"The hotel is an important landmark for the community and they asked for it to be retained as part of the regeneration work in the area. Exciting projects are currently in the pipeline for the future use of the building" gushed Making It Better.
Forward wind to 2012 and the "important landmark for the community" is currently being bulldozed. How exciting is that?
The last decade has been the story of botched plans, torn up consultations and the unwillingness of Salford Council to divert any of its vast amounts of regeneration funding into the Hotel, apart from the inflated £385,000 cost of originally purchasing it, and the £63,760 cost of demolishing it.
Back in April 2004, the Seedley and Langworthy Trust (SALT) carried out a consultation, with the results showing that two thirds of respondents wanted the Langworthy Hotel saved and re-opened as a new community venue. The least popular option was for it to be demolished.
In March 2006, when Salford Council was flush with regeneration money for the area, Council officer Terry McBride told the community at a Environmental Task Group meeting that "the Council does not have the resources to fund the development itself so will have to work with developers…"
Urban Splash, which had already pocketed millions of pounds of public money for its Chimney Pot Park upside down houses, "have shown no interest", McBride reported, while Manchester Methodist and SALT had been working on an option "but this has not proved feasible…only one option appears financially viable – demolition and new build."
Minutes of the community meeting show that McBride also informed the community that "The building is not listed."
Later that year, however, the Hotel was put on the market with Salford Council's sales spec stating that the Langworthy Hotel was classified as Grade A- on Salford City Council's Local List of buildings, structures and features of architectural and archaeological interest… "potentially of statutory list quality and to be the subject of notification…if imminently threatened."
The sales report added that the Council was looking for developers who would "help drive the regeneration of the Langworthy Road Village centre…We believe that this building, its location, architectural attributes and close ties to the local community provides the essential requirements to create a positive impact that will ensure the continued transformation of the Seedley and Langworthy area."
Despite over £68million being pumped into the area to `transform' it, there were no takers, and in March 2011 Salford Council took the decision to demolish the Langworthy Hotel, arguing that it had a "detrimental impact on the surrounding area" and should be demolished "to remove blight and health and safety risks associated with the existing derelict structure". (see here)
"We bought the Langworthy Hotel several years ago at the request of the local community who were keen to have it turned into a community resource" says Salford City Council Leader John Merry "Unfortunately, despite significant efforts, we have never been able to find anyone who was able to find a viable use for the building.
"We have had to take the difficult decision to demolish the hotel to avoid it falling into further disrepair" he adds "We are now looking at what we can do with the site and are hoping to use some of it to develop housing to benefit the community in Langworthy."
As the bulldozers continue to trash the Hotel, questions have to be asked as to how, in the middle of a `flagship' regeneration scheme, no funding could be found for a valued `community landmark', while £10million could be found for Salford Council resources at MediaCityUK, and loans could be found for the Salford Community Stadium, and £15million could be found to underwrite commercial rents at the yet to be built `Ugly Sisters' buildings in Greengate.
All along, central to the negotiations around the future of the Langworthy Hotel, has been the Manchester Methodist organisation, now called Great Places Housing Association.
Great Places has also been central to the new Emmanuel Church development and apartments next door to the Langworthy Hotel. The minutes of the April 2006 community meeting show that local resident Mark Tandy "asked if the church development is a conflict of interest as both developments are being carried out by Manchester Methodists…"
Another local resident, Lynn Pringle-Adley, said "that the Council should stop singing the praises of Manchester Methodists as they have far too much influence in the area and created the problems in the first place…"
Was it in the interest of Manchester Methodist/Great Places to retain the Langworthy Hotel as residential units or community facilities when it would be competing with a scheme it was very much involved with next door?
Salford Council now states that it is looking at future options for the cleared site. Whatever those options are, it seems more than ironic that yet another historic community landmark in Salford is being trashed, while a new £multi-million so-called `landmark building', the Emmanuel Church development, is in an absolute state of dereliction, with pigeons nesting in its broken walls and flying out of its skylights…
PART TWO: The £5.5million Pigeon Penthouse - click here