Star date: 23rd May 2018


Last night, a packed stormy meeting of the Claremont and Weaste Community Committee left Salford City Council in no doubt that any plans to build houses in Buile Hill Park as part of a deal to restore the Grade 2 listed Mansion will be met with fierce opposition.

Salford Council's Assistant Director of the Environment revealed to the meeting that Salford Red Devils Foundation, one of the driving partners of the project, hadn't even signed the controversial Memorandum of Understanding yet and that the 1.6million cost of restoring the Mansion would have to be met with 1million a year to sustain it, giving a figure of over 20million.

Full details here...

Local councillors and members of the community who attended a packed meeting of the Claremont and Weaste Community Committee meeting at De La Salle Sports Centre last night were all in agreement that any proposals to build houses in Buile Hill Park would be fiercely opposed.

The Salford Star revealed recently that there was a Memorandum of Understanding, passed in secret by Salford Council, for developer Capital and Centric to work with the Salford Red Devils Foundation on proposals to finance restoration and community use for the Buile Hill Park Mansion by possibly building houses on the site of the park's old depot site.**

This immediately set off a petition against the plans - which now has over 2,000 signatures* and calls for the Council to explain what the hell was going on to the local Community Committee. Last night, David Seager, Assistant Director for the Environment, attempted to do this, in the face of angry local residents.

He began with a pre-prepared statement justifying the Council's position, saying that both Salford Red Devils Foundation and Capital and Centric had shown interest in restoring the Mansion but that the Foundation's proposal was "not deemed to be financially viable", so both parties "were encouraged to work together to come up with a sustainable proposal for the Mansion and the depot site that would bring the Mansion back into public use....

"Capita and Centric submitted an expression of interest which suggested all manner of potential options, which did include some residential but also included options around a boutique hotel, bars and restaurants" he added "The point of the Memorandum of Understanding for six months is that they develop, consult and refine their proposals but only on the basis of a sustainable community use for the Mansion is secured." (see full statement below)

The Council officer then added that the restoration of the Mansion would cost at least 1.6million, and, with architects' fees over 2million and later explained that, while the Council could potentially find that money, "to keep that building running would cost 1million a year, so it's not 1.6million we have to find, it's nearly 20million..." He also revealed that the Reds Foundation hadn't even signed the Memorandum of Understanding yet.

While the 1million a year running cost figure was met with disbelief in the room, most residents were angry at the principle of building houses in a public park and the Council's park priorities...

"You're saying money is a problem yet you've given 19million to the RHS Garden in Worsley, so why is Buile Hill Park a problem when you can give 19million to that?" asked resident Lynda Curran, who started the petition against any Buile Hill Park houses.

"Everybody loves that park" she added "You've managed to destroy it up to now but this is where it stops - this is a step too far."

Another resident added that she'd watched the demise of the Mansion, which has lain derelict for 18 years... "I think you've got us over a barrel" she said "'If you want Buile Hill Mansion to stop being a shithole then you have to agree to sell our souls' and it's not fair. You're selling the family silver but it's us that loses out."

Former Claremont councillor, Mary Ferrer, who has been opposing development in the park since the plan by John Wilkinson to convert the Mansion into a private hotel, reminded the Council official that 3million potential Lottery funding for Buile Hill Park had been lost because of the former aborted scheme...

"Why have you gone with the Foundation when they haven't got the money in the first place?" she asked "Why do we have to sell our soul to give them the money for them to do the work?"

Residents questioned why the Council isn't using Section 106 money to restore the Mansion from the many developers that have built houses in the area; while others asked why the Council couldn't do a deal with the developer to build houses on sites away from the park while still financing the Mansion restoration.

"Why don't you do something really crackers, like plant some trees on the depot site" said one resident to loud cheers, while others believed the proposal was a 'done deal' and that any promised consultation would be a sham.

Having heard the local councillors speak out against any plans to build houses in the park, one resident said "If our representatives don't want this and the people of Salford don't want it, why are we here? This shouldn't go any further..."

The Council officer didn't have any answers about the consultation or the actual proposals, and just kept repeating that no decisions had been made and the Memorandum of Understanding hadn't even been signed yet by the Reds Foundation...

"The agreement is for those two parties to talk together but at the moment they're not doing that very well" he added.

Local councillor, Paul Wilson proposed that the Community Committee write to the Cabinet and City Mayor to express "that we are opposed to building homes in Buile Hill Park", and while this was passed unanimously, resident Mike Kelly added that "We need to be careful about how we word that proposal we don't want any development because if it was restaurants and bars that would bring problems too..."

Mary Ferrer added that the issue needs to go wider than the Claremont and Weaste Community Committee... "This should be discussed city wide" she said "It's our flagship heritage park..."

* To sign the petition against development in Buile Hill Park click here

** For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...

Salford Council Transparency Deficit Over Buile Hill Park and Housing Plans - click here

Over 2,000 People Sign Buile Hill Park Petition as Developer Promises Open Day - click here

Salford Council Loses Lottery Bid Over Hotel in Park - click here

How Salford Council Does Its Community Business - click here

The Full Statement from Salford City Council...

"The Council widely marketed the Mansion and invited expressions of interest. A number of organisations came forward, which included Salford Red Devils Foundation and Capital and Centric. As a standalone, the Salford Red Devils Foundation proposal was not deemed to be financially viable so the two parties were encouraged to work together to come up with a sustainable proposal for the Mansion and the depot site that would bring the Mansion back into public use.

"A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed that does not bind the Council in any way whatsoever but it gives the two organisations six months to work together and work up their thinking and detailed proposals. The proposals will need to demonstrate how the refurbishment of the Mansion will be paid for and, more importantly, how its long term future as a community building can be secured.

"If the proposals for the Mansion are not viable then no development will take place either within the Mansion or in the depot area. It's also important to stress that we are not proposing, nor will we consider any proposal, to build on any recreational areas within Buile Hill Park.

"A number of options are under consideration for the depot area. The depot is derelict and redundant and has been a secured area of the park for a number of years. It's never been an area generally accessible to the public recently, nor used for public recreation, and is no longer needed for the management of Buile Hill Park. It's also costing the Council considerable finance to keep it as safe as it can, despite it being a locked area.

"Capita and Centric submitted an expression of interest which suggested all manner of potential options, which did include some residential but also included options around a boutique hotel, bars and restaurants.

"The point of the Memorandum of Understanding for six months is that they develop, consult and refine their proposals but only on the basis that a sustainable community use for the Mansion is secured.

"I promise you that nothing has been ruled out or in yet but the Memorandum of Understanding means nothing more than giving the parties space to look at viable proposals. The Council has made no commitment and no agreement.

"Both organisations are looking to consult with residents and stakeholders shortly on their early thinking for the Mansion and depot site, as both want to be totally open and transparent. Equally the Council is determined that they do the same.

"It is also worth remembering that the Mansion and the park itself are listed and so have statutory protection. Any proposals therefore would not only need to satisfy the Council but also Historic England as they are very sympathetic to the historic setting, landscape and Mansion..."

Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 16:22:51 on 29 May 2018
Retired Socialist, why are you trying to get me banned? Read my comment to Mary in regard to the Buile Hill Mansion. Nothing that I said was offensive. Everything that I said was said with sincerity and was constructive. You Sir should change your pseudonym from Retired Socialist to Tommy Tittle Tattle

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 16:22:38 on 29 May 2018
Retired Socialist, why are you attempting to censor the views expressed on this site? Is it because you are genuinely offended or is it because of your limited intellect? By the way,I can't believe you were ever "a socialist", from year dot you have been a dispeptic rightists!

Retired Socailst wrote
at 11:11:25 on 29 May 2018
I sometimes wonder why Steve allows people like Ray of sunshine and Mr Rossi on the site, i like many have followed the page since it's inception mainly for it's stunning levels of investigative journalism and the Labour Councils list of follies. But i felt the comments section was to allow views positive or negative on the article not to make shocking personal attacks on the people who identify themselves and offer relative feedback to the articles in general. All Mr Rossi and Ray will achieve will be the decline in open and honest comment from contributors in fear of facing the high level of attack by these two. Their attacks lack any constructive comment or even a view just high levels of venom i for one write very rarely with people like these two along with many others sadly. If Steve you wish to see more people offer views i would suggest you print relevant comments in line with your stories and not the ramblings of these two.

High Hopes wrote
at 11:10:49 on 29 May 2018
Mary thank you for triggering good ideas. I know the voters say Salford remains Labour. Why not just all join Labour to infuse diversity. If openly transparent I could run with that. Felsey.

Mary ferrer wrote
at 11:10:19 on 29 May 2018
Think ray and Philip Are either both labour councillors. But I do think you are both the same person. I won't go away.

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 21:58:44 on 28 May 2018
Mary, as usual,'you are all mouth and no trousers' -you whine but you have no solutions to the issues you profess to care about! To you, serious politics is such a drag;at the end of the day, it's all about gaining maximum publicity for "Moan alot Mary". PS how are loans payable over a number of decades categorised as "bad debts"?

Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 21:58:39 on 28 May 2018
Mary, there are so many good things that the Buille Hill Mansion could be used for. Outside of it being a hotel, I think that turning it into a refuge for refugees would be a good idea. It could be a mid term refuge, one that gives the refugees six months of board, lodging and training, an example of that training would be intensive English lessons and psychological help, as many of the refugees have come from war zones and, as a result have PTSD. Then, after their six month stay there they could be offered further help in becoming part of the community, getting accomodation and work etc. Equally, you have many gay and lesbian teens who as a result of their sexuality, have found themselves lost and alone on the streets of the United Kingdom. As well as the Refugee Refuge, a portion of the Mansion could be used for providing a six month stay to these various gay youths. This would be good, and if Jeremy gets in Number Ten, and as a result we stay within the EU, then I can definitely see the Council getting funding from Brussels to use the Mansion House for these things.

Mary ferrer wrote
at 16:42:34 on 28 May 2018
Forgot to ask, where will the Reds foundation find the running costs (1M) According to the council officer per year??? Just a thought

Mary ferrer wrote
at 16:42:30 on 28 May 2018
Ray and your mate Philip have a look at the plans we had for the Mansion 10/11 years ago. But your labour mates had other plans to make sure Wilkinson got his dream hotel no matter what.So we are now back to square one. But this time it's worse.The crowd funding would help to renovate the Mansion. And turn it into a wedding venue working with the banqueting suite. Marriages in the side room. Have 3/4 bedrooms for the bridal party,small is best. Community room cafe and turn the basement into the museum for the rugby plan. I am also sure a room for the radio station could be found. So the council will get the M for year to year running costs??? They would also make a good profit.Buildings a small conservatory on the footprint of the old one for functions, afternoo tea dances. Regarding getting back the loans that have been owed to the city since 2010.If you or me owed money to a bank for so long we would be in court 1.5M is a lot of money. Waiting your sarcastic comments

Bob the regular wrote
at 20:34:57 on 27 May 2018
You know ,I rather like that idea of a wedding venue for the mansion. With the gardens all round done up as nice as they used to be, it would be great for the photo call ect. I heard talk the other day ,people saying how hard it is these days to get a wedding venue.With regard to the viability of the rugby stadium, I can see grounds for future prospects there. If Ryan Giggs and his mates are right about the future of Salford City being in the championship in 10 years, (and who is anybody to question the football knowledge of these lads) then we will have developments there as well. If Salford City bide their time where they are, then I can see hoards of drunk football yobs from visiting teams clogging up Bury New Road on the way to the ground on a Saturday afternoon. Our new Kersal councillors who by that time will be three, along with their electorate will go ballistic. As I understand it, the council own the land, and the club lease it as they have done for many years.Although the site is worth a lot of money, neither can sell it without the others consent. If the club stand their ground, and the council are getting stick from the residents, I could see a deal where the council pay the club a fortune to move out, money they could get back by selling the councils share in the rugby ground, to the football club.The council could then recoup the cash it paid to the football club by selling the moor lane site for housing that suits the residents of Kersal. The whole lot should please everyone , including all our usual dissidents, me included.

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 12:36:30 on 26 May 2018
Mary, ignoring for the moment your reliance on hoary chestnuts such as Salford Reds and calling in so-called 'debts',I'd ĺike to ask, how would stunts like calling for donations or crowdfunding secure th e long term future of Buile Hill Park? By their very nature , publc contributions/crowdfunding are purely short term, they cannot be used as a long term source of funds! Protecting our local heritage is for life, not just a gimmick to be used in an election campaign.

Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 12:36:08 on 26 May 2018
What really irks me is when the "little people" start talking of what needs to be done. As if "they" somehow have the answers. "They" somehow know the score. My question to them would be what qualifies you to spout such nonsense on a regular basis. Well Mary, what qualifies you to spout this nonsense on a regular basis?

Mary ferrer wrote
at 09:20:17 on 26 May 2018
The fact is this Labour run council don't listen to the people of Salford.I stated quite clear how they could fund the renovation of the mansion. Call in ALL the debts that are owed to the city. They find it quite easy to borrow money for the stadium and the gardens in worsly and they didn't have any public consultation for either of them With vision the Mansion to bring in a lot of revenue.Not like the stadium which is like a boat with holes in and our dear council keep stuffing the holes with OUR money.there are lots of ways we could raise money for the renovation of the mansion.work with the residents crowd funding being one idea.They asked for donations for the birthing centre,do the same for the Mansion. The Council need to work with and talk to the people of Salford.

cliveofindia wrote
at 19:18:46 on 25 May 2018
This building has tremendous potential. Why is Salford's Registry office not housed in this building rather than at the institutionalised surroundings of the Civic Centre for example? It would be a sustainable concern as a wedding venue and for other festivities set within a listed building and landscape - a backdrop for fabulous wedding photographs. It's a no brainer. The Victorian extension at Buile is a large ornate banqueting hall. Moderate sized but ample rooms for smaller events exist and a sensitivity designed glass lift structure on the rear of the building would enable disabled access whilst retaining the integrity of the architecture. It beggars belief that the potential for this building is not seen and grasped by City planners. (Of course it would help if the City had someone looking after our historic buildings). Meanwhile the site of the recently demolished park buildings could be in the discretely placed car park. And some of the paintings in store in the basement of Peel Park could be put on public view once more. A community group working with council officers is the best model to acquire funding either that or a community share campaign as at Stretford public hall. Once commercial companies are involved you can say goodbye to Lottery or any other public money which is what happened when the City applied for funding for the park and excluded the mansion. Restoring this building would do much for the City's reputation as an enlightened and sensitive owner of Salford's historic environment. Building houses in a public park - the City Park bought and added to for the benefit of those living in polluted areas with poor housing in an effort to improve health - is the opposite and just reinforces the poor reputation we have in Salford for conserving the best of the past.

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 15:16:47 on 25 May 2018
So, Mary, we can suŕmise because f our reference to Salford Ŕeds,RHS Garďen,et, you have no solid means to fnance your prpsals for Buile Hĺl Park! Facts have never bee yor strong point, Mary - still so ĺog as you gt 200 odd votes in a futile election campaign, who cares?

Democracy and freedom is worth fighting for wrote
at 15:16:33 on 25 May 2018
Rayofbullshit, why dont you just f**k off, all you contrabute is negativity, nothing positive. Id rather have one mary ferrer, than ten inbreads like you,. So do the people of Salford a favour and crawl back underneath the rock, you once came from. Out with this corrupted Labour council.

Mary ferrer wrote
at 05:36:40 on 25 May 2018
Let's see where should the money come from.well lers have a think.Could start collecting planning fees and 106 monies.they could start collecting outstanding loans.Now how did they fund the white elephant that was once known as the community Stadium. That's right they got a loan,then they got more loans to keep it afloat. We have a rather large garden planned for worsley.They needed some money for that,wonder where they found the money,think it was a spit in the ocean 19 Million,think that was another loan.I understand after reading the star they are owed some money from Urban Vision,are they not the company that have been ripping off the council for a few years. Didn't a few high flyers at the council get a little pay rise not so long ago. the figure quoted to renovate the Mansion was about 2 Million. So if they get the 1.5M the former Owner of the reds took over when he became the owner, they only need to find half a million. Say another 2M for upgrade. They could do what they appear to have no hesitation in doing BORROW IT.They can't look after the parks we have why invest in another one. Why built a stadium where they did and why NO public consultation.in fact where was the consultation for the 19MILLION garden in Worsley.What they could do is WORK with the community to get the Mansion up and running. I am sure there are people who would help set up a community group for the Mansion and the group could apply for funding. Why sell our souls to developers. If they go ahead with this they will have one hell of a fight on there hands,that is a promise

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 20:12:43 on 24 May 2018
More impotent grandstanding from toothless tiger,Mary Ferrer! I think Mary owes it to the Star to explain where the money will come from to protect Buile Hill Park ?

Mary ferrer wrote
at 10:08:18 on 24 May 2018
First I would like to say a very big thank you to Steve and the star for being on the ball,yet again and highlighting this plan.I just hope the officer who attended the meeting feeds back to the council and the Mayor how the majority of people don't want houses within the park. We have been here before. The council didn't listen to the people or the then English heritage. The garden history society. They were all against the hotel,but the council still went ahead. We will have a fight on our hands,but that's never stopped us before and it won't now.

Christopher McBride wrote
at 10:08:14 on 24 May 2018
This reminds me of Commorra (Mafia) in Naples after the earthquakes. Millions of pounds SQUANDERED by bent city officials passing massively over priced contracts for so-called 're-furbishment', to friends and relatives. Please keep me informed about the Party in the Park where I grew up! I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight after reading this!!!----Love n Attitude!

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