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SALFORD BUILE HILL MANSION AND GARDEN CENTRE SERVICE FOR SALE
 

Star date: 19th March 2013

A Salford Star Exclusive

BUILE HILL MANSION UP FOR SALE AFTER JOHN WILKINSON GIVEN PUSH

The Grade 2 listed Mansion House in Buile Hill Park is being put back on the market, following the failure of former Salford City Reds director John Wilkinson and his partners to turn the Mansion into a `country hotel'.
 
Also up for sale is the contract to operate services for vulnerable people in the Park's Garden Centre, which are currently jointly run between Salford Council and Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust.

Full details here…


Buile Hill Mansion Salford Buile Hill Mansion Salford Buile Hill Mansion Salford
Buile Hill Park Garden Centre Buile Hill Park Garden Centre Salford Council Cuts Placard
click image to enlarge

After five years of John Wilkinson and partners attempting to turn the Grade 2 listed Mansion House in Buile Hill Park into a `country hotel', Salford Council has finally given the unpopular project the push.

The Mansion, built by Charles Barry around 1825, has been tinned up for 13 years, after the closure of the Salford Mining Museum during Salford Council's cuts of 2000.

In 2006, the companies Godliman Watson and Wilkinson Star - owned by former Salford City Reds Directors, John Wilkinson and Iain Watson – `expressed an interest' in the Mansion, and in 2008 obtained planning permission to turn it into a private hotel – despite objections and protests from the local community (see here).

A sale price of £675,000 for the Mansion was mentioned but, apparently Salford Council never received the money, although it never actually publicly admitted this. Instead, the Council extended expired planning permission for the hotel in 2011.

Meanwhile, a £3million application to Heritage Lottery Fund for Buile Hill Park's restoration was rejected as the funders "had concerns about how the development of a hotel within the park would impact on its character" (see here and see here).

In a letter sent in June last year from Salford Council's joint venture company Urban Vision to ex councillor and Chair of the Claremont Community Association, Mary Ferrer, it was revealed that "We estimate that the developer's financial commitment since their initial expression of interest to date exceeds £200,000". The money wasn't paid to Salford Council but went on "architects, consultants and planning fees".

The letter from Urban Vision added that "Prospects for the hotel development now appear to be more positive than at any time since the initial planning consent was granted in 2008…We maintain regular dialogue with the developers and are hopeful of further positive developments in the coming months."

Since then, Mary Ferrer has sent 26 e-mails to the Council, Urban Vision and City Mayor asking for further information, yet not one of them was answered, apart from automated responses. With rumours sweeping the city that the Mansion was about to be put up for sale, Mary sent a final e-mail last week…

"Is this how a resident of this city is treated?" she wrote "Since June last year I have sent each and every one of you requests for information relating to the Grade Two Mansion House in Buile Hill Park.

"I am now understand the Mansion is going to be re- advertised in the near future" she added "I don't expect an answer, but I will give it a try. If this is the case, and I think it is, may I ask why won't the Council work with us to set up a preservation trust, let us bid for external funding and keep the building for the people of this city."

After nine months, Mary finally got a reply yesterday from Urban Vision's Richard Wynne…

"On behalf of the Council we have previously terminated discussions with the promoters of the hotel project" he wrote "This was on the basis that the scheme had, for a long time, failed to secure funds and from discussions with the promoters there was a negligible chance of success either by them or any of the other associated parties that they had pursued.

"After discussions with the Deputy City Mayor, he has asked that we seek expressions of interest from any parties interested in taking over the former mansion and the surrounding yard area for conversion into a sustainable and viable long term use."

And Deputy City Mayor, David Lancaster has offered to meet Mary to discuss options for the Mansion, now there's no commercial interest. Yet many questions remain, like…

• Why didn't Salford Council sit down with community back in 2006 to discuss keeping the Mansion for the people of Salford?
• Why was a private hotel even considered to be plonked in the middle of a public park?
• Why did Salford Council extend planning permission to Wilkinson and Watson when it was obvious that the project had no chance of succeeding?
• Why was the project allowed to proceed when Wilkinson and Watson hadn't, it appears, paid any money at all for the building?


As the Buile Hill Park Mansion goes back on the market, the incredibly important service for vulnerable adults, based in the Park's Garden Centre, is also up for sale.

The service is currently run jointly by Salford Council and Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust but this and other community mental health services and residential mental health services are about to be `re-commissioned', in other words, privatised.

"It's not just the Garden Centre but Ingleside and Hollybank residential care homes too" says Steven North of Salford City UNISON, who represents staff working in the service.

"The Council says that it's `re-commissioning' the service, that it would simply be a service that would transfer as is, but there is a saving attached to the proposal so how can that be?" he asks "We don't want to see these services privatised, we know what happens when these services come into the hands of the private sector - there's been numerous examples nationally and locally to pick from.

"These are key services for vulnerable people, they are services that work" he concludes "We think the Council should think again."

Noel Daly wrote
at 06:47:22 on 22 September 2015
Looks like the world is full of inept, bungling, no common sense power hungry councils. Shame on yours for even thinking about the disposal of this building.
 
David Bailey wrote
at 21:51:46 on 16 May 2014
Myself and my wife went to pay a trip to the garden centre yesterday, unfortunately we found it all closed up, the park keepers said that it was now closed but could not provide an explination as to why, now upon finding this site all has become clear. Shame on GWM and Salford council.
 
Julie Collier wrote
at 06:04:49 on 17 April 2014
I have worked at the cafe in the park for four years this July after suffering from mental health problems in the past. Im so sad the staff of the cafe/garden centre are leaving in 2 weeks and I understand the new owners ahall only be leaving it open for a month. I have no idea what me or my colleagues at the cafe and garden centre will co then :(
 
Sick of Irwell Riverside Councillors wrote
at 06:20:04 on 21 March 2013
More memories going under the Hammer, a great mining Museum and a great greenhouse, I see they never let the Town hall and its Gardens go rack to ruin.
 
MARY FERRER wrote
at 06:19:02 on 21 March 2013
I don't know what hold Wilkinson and Watson have or had this council,but something stinks. The Mansion has been left in mothballs now for 5 years waiting for these two to move forward with their hotel project.If you or I did the same, there is no way it would be allowed.The council must have known they didn't have the finances,yet they never put the Mansion back on the open market. If the Council had worked with us 7/8 years ago and helped us setup a preservation trust,there was a good chance for outside funding and we wouldn't have lost the lottery bid for the park.But that is now history. I hope that we could still enter into talks with the council to move forward with this. We will wait and see. Just Glad this hair brain scheme for a hotel within our heritage park has been put in the bin. It never should have been passed in the first place.
 
I am not a hypocrite, but i know someone who is. wrote
at 13:18:36 on 20 March 2013
Last night the mayor of salford tweeted "Speak out against NHS privatisation" urging the people of salford to oppose this evil, this morning i look at the star and see that this is what he is doing with health services in salford. What a hypocrite.
 
Debbie wrote
at 21:53:52 on 19 March 2013
my uncle went to the garden center after he was in hospital becoz of his depresshun he says it saved his life becoz with out it he would not be here now. i hope it don't close down becoz it helps people when they are ill
 
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