At four o’clock today, Friday, 28.08.09, the Campaign Team met with councillors of Trafford Council, representatives of Sale Civic Society, The Friends of Walkden Gardens, local residents and Paul Goggins MP.
The discussions ranged over the prospects for a viable future for the old building, post-listing, the record of the local authority in protecting existing listed buildings in the borough, and the Save the Sale Hotel ‘story so far.’
The Campaign Team was able to find out some of the points of the discussion which were raised at the earlier meeting with the developers and from which the Campaign Team had been excluded.
One of the prospects raised at this meeting resonated with earlier suggestions by leaders of the campaign, that the Sale Hotel should become an educational facility, possibly an annexe of Sale Grammar School. This seems to have several advantages over its use as a commercial business. Firstly, it would therefore be in the public sector and immune to some degree from having to turn a profit. Secondly, its use for the purpose of education would tend to preclude very late hours and consequently would tend to be more acceptable to near neighbours. Thirdly, the ceiling heights of the building would lend its use to the performing arts. Fourthly, it would provide a more economical and more carbon friendly alternative to bussing students from the Sale Grammar site to Claremont Road, as is presently the case.
The Campaign Team drew to everyone’s attention to the fact that the Sale Hotel has not been maintained recently and that there were some slates missing from the roof. Fears were expressed that the building would rapidly deteriorate if rain water was able to penetrate the fabric of the building. There was some discussion about whether the owner could be legally compelled to make repairs, but the view was expressed that effectively it was not possible. The Campaign Team made mention that Trafford MBC actually owned a number of listed buildings which were in an extremely poor state of repair. One of the members the Campaign Team pointed out to the councillors present at the meeting that Trafford MBC would look very silly if they attempted to criticise the owner of the Sale Hotel for failing to make small repairs, if the Council were unwilling to address their own responsibilities in this regard.
The mobile telephone installation, which made use of the tower of the Sale Hotel has been decommissioned. There was a suggestion that planning permission had been sought of Trafford Council to lay new mobile telephone facilities to the car park of the Sale Hotel, possibly implying that the site would still operate mobile telephone communications.
The Campaign Team raised the question why Trafford MBC had not appointed a Heritage Champion, consistent with the practice of many other local councils.
The Campaign Team raised important questions of principle about the near demolition of the Sale Hotel. Why had the Heritage Protection Bill been withdrawn from the forthcoming parliamentary session ? Paul Goggins offered to pursue this with the Secretary of State for CMS. Why had Trafford MBC failed to inform many of those interested parties in the borough that a notice to demolish the building had been received. None of the groups and societies, for example, Sale Civic Society had been informed. Few residents had been informed. The councillors representing Trafford MBC at this meeting were unable to say why there had been a lack of consultation.