"Just to clear up any misunderstanding it might be helpful if I explain the purpose of yesterday’s meeting between the developers, local politicians and planning officials. Given all the recent events and the likely listing of the Sale Hotel the developer was keen to have an early meeting with me and local councillors. We thought it would be helpful if senior planning officers were also present.
The purpose was not to negotiate any secret deals but to gain a better understanding of the new challenges and opportunities that will present themselves once the Listing has taken place. We found the developers to be constructive in their approach - but they now have the task of giving the Sale Hotel a new purpose.
Given the fact that the original house has been added to and extended over the years they were keen to get a better understanding of what is non negotiable in terms of demolition and what may be possible. Clearly the old house and the tower must stay as well as any other parts of the building covered by the Listing.
There is no intention of excluding members of the public from discussions about the future of the Sale Hotel. The developer did not want to engage in public dialogue at this stage as there are no specific proposals under consideration and the formal Listing has not yet been made. In hindsight – and given the constructive nature of yesterday’s discussions – if the developers had been in agreement there would not in my view have been any difficulty in extending an invitation to members of the campaign group and it was good that George Cogswell joined us at the end.
Any decisions taken will need to reflect the formal Listing decision which is not yet made. And any planning application will be subject to full public consultation.
We have established a good team spirit in responding to the urgent need to protect the Sale Hotel and we have succeeded in stopping the bulldozers. But we all now have a responsibility to make sure that the building and the site can be put to good use rather than be left derelict and subject to vandalism. Living accommodation is one possibility but there may be other potential uses and it is important that all options are considered. One thing which is absolutely ruled out by the terms of the sale agreement entered in to by the developers is the use of the property as a pub or nightclub.
Given that two weeks ago none of us even knew the developers, yesterday’s discussion was a first step in trying to find a way forward that suits everyone. They made it clear that as proposals emerge they will be happy to meet and consult. In any future meetings we will make sure that representatives of the group are present and able to participate fully in the discussion.
Pending the formal decision to List we have achieved the first part of our campaign to save the Sale Hotel – congratulations again to all those who have given time to the campaign and to those who signed the petition. The second part is to find a future use for the building which is affordable and suitable. That is a task that everyone will have a say in.