In September last year, Salford City Council almost announced that the much loved Grade 2 listed Buile Hill Mansion had been sold to a developer who it was believed had plans to turn it into a hotel, as a six month `exclusivity' deal was declared (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
With that six month deal now expired without a sale, the Mansion is up for grabs and a new consortium has come forward with big plans for community use as it's hoped Salford Council will hand it back to the people of Salford.
Simon Williams, owner of Sounds of Salford Radio, is leading a bid with John Blackburn of the Salford Reds Rugby League Foundation to take over the building, and want new Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett to rubber stamp the deal...
"This is going to depend on Council goodwill" says Simon "What a great statement for Paul Dennett to make that he has arrived as Mayor than to give this building back to the people of Salford.
"Rather than seeing another great building go to waste, let's get the kids off the streets and local people in here and give them something to do and somewhere to go" he adds "There is work that needs doing inside and it needs funding, and then we want to bring it back to life."
The plans include a top floor radio suite to teach young people editing and presentation skills, a rugby museum on the middle floor, which could also include a Salford music and art museum, while the ground floor would see a community cafe and workshop space. Most exciting of all is the possibility of re-opening the Mansion's basement as a Salford Mining Museum...
"We had a look around and the basement has still got the tracks from the original mining museum in there" says Simon "But everything is to be decided. We need to get all the parties together and involved. There's lots of local people who love this park. It's got special memories for everyone. We've seen the derelict state it's in because it's been empty for over 14 years and we've got to act fast."
The consortium has already held meetings with Urban Vision to discuss plans and have filed an expression of interest.
*Simon Williams is also an author and his last book had a character called `Williams' who took over Buile Hill Mansion, as fiction just might be turning fact (see here).
The History of Buile Hill Park Mansion...
* Believed to have been built around 1835, designed by Charles Barry, who was the architect for the House of Commons. This was his first recorded domestic commission and his only recorded Greek villa.
* The Mansion was Grade 2 listed in 1980 along with its grounds and was the home of the much loved Lancashire Mining Museum until it was closed by Salford Council cuts in 2000.
* Legend has it that Francis Hodgson Burnett based her world famous book, The Secret Garden, on visits to the park and mansion.
* In 2008 Salford City Reds owner, John Wilkinson, won planning permission to turn the mansion into a four star country style hotel, against massive community opposition (see Salford Star print issue 8)
* In 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a £3million bid from Salford Council on the grounds that "a hotel within a park would impact on its character".
At the time the then LibDem councillor Mary Ferrer stated "I am actually glad that somebody has listened to what the people of Salford wanted. We didn't want a hotel in a park, but because the Council wouldn't listen to other options we have now lost the Lottery bid. If we would have worked together we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today." (see previous Salford Star article – click here)
* In 2013 the Mansion was put back on the market after Wilkinson's hated plans bit the dust (see previous Salford Star article - click here)
* In 2015 a Salford Council report stated that an un-named party had been given a six month exclusivity deal on the Mansion. That has now expired