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National Trust In Talks Over Heaton Hall And Park

Summit today over the future of the region's finest historic house

Written by . Published on November 27th 2013.

National Trust In Talks Over Heaton Hall And Park

CONFIDENTIAL received this intriguing release from Manchester City Council yesterday.

Press release from Manchester City Council

Manchester City Council and the National Trust, along with representatives from English Heritage and Marketing Manchester, will be meeting on Wednesday 27 November to continue discussions about developing a partnership at various levels to shape the future of Heaton Park and Hall.

The two day workshop will focus on ways in which their shared knowledge and expertise can help to ensure a sustainable future for the much loved green space.

Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council Executive Member for Culture and Leisure said: "I know how much the people of Manchester love Heaton Park and I look forward to working with National Trust and all our partners to ensure its sustainable, vibrant future.

"Our commitment to improving Heaton Park is unwavering and these park discussions show our determination to find new ways of continuing the investment programme in the park."

John Darlington, Director for the North West at the National Trust said: "The National Trust exists to look after special places for ever, for everyone, and we are really pleased to be sharing ideas and expertise with Manchester City Council to help them to look after this much-loved place now, and for future generations".

This is very good news, confirming rumours about talks between the council and the National Trust.

Certainly something needs to be done to secure the crumbling yet magnificent hall. The decayed state of the west wing and the denial of access to the public into this public building is a disgrace. 

As we reported on Confidential earlier this year this neglect is nationally notorious. 

Dr Nicholas Penny, the Director of the National Gallery, speaking at the launch of a Manchester Art Gallery exhibition in May, said: "The next job is to get started on Heaton Hall, Manchester's extremely important neo-Classical house in Heaton Park. This is urgent."

The mothballing of Heaton Hall in the last couple of years has been controversial in the extreme - even featuring in Private Eye.

It is the best historic and cultural asset outside the city centre but within the city boundaries. It is of national importance and Grade I listed.

As we've written on these pages before: 'Heaton Hall, the centre-piece of the park, is in danger of mouldering away. It's to the city's shame that the west wing of this lovely building has been a roofed shell since a fire in the 1983 - thirty years ago. Built in 1772, designed by James Wyatt, Heaton Hall lies closed to the public, shuttered off, and yet it has been described as 'a building of refinement and elegance not exceeded in any English house of these years'.'

Effortlessly beautiful interiors


Effortlessly beautiful interiors of a nationally important house

Let's hope these talks between Manchester City Council and the National Trust lead not to more talks and then more talks but decisions on saving the building and maintaining the splendid park surrounding it.

After all the reason why the estate was bought in 1902 from the Earl of Wilton was as a recreational and cultural resource for the people of Manchester in perpetuity.

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ghostly TomNovember 27th 2013.

I do hope this isn't another false dawn for this important building. It's been allowed to crumble for far too long. I wonder if they will do something with the wider park? Good news....

DavidNovember 27th 2013.

The hypocrisy of Manchester Council.Letting their own historic buildings fall into neglect yet pursuing Britannia Hotels through the courts for not redeveloping the Old Fire Station.

11 Responses: Reply To This...
crisbyNovember 27th 2013.

MCC are neglecting Heaton Hall because they are strapped for cash and have to prioritise. There is no reason to suppose they are willingly neglecting it. They are pursuing Britannia in proper fulfilment of their duty as a planning authority, to try to stop a private company who are wilfully letting another major piece of the city's heritage rot. MCC are of course capable of spectacular hypocrisy but this isn't it.

DavidNovember 27th 2013.

So strapped for cash during the 30 years of neglect of Heaton Hall that they are able to spend over a £100 million on the Town Hall and Central Library.Thats money that is basically being spent on themselves.But they cannot find any for Heaton Hall and are reduced to begging the National Trust to take it of their hands.Manchester Council are total hypocrites.

GimboidNovember 27th 2013.

Money spent on the library is spent 'on themselves'? No surprise to know that you're not a big reader, David.

DavidNovember 28th 2013.

The council spent money on the library and town hall at the same time.Spending money on the library made it easier to justify the vast spending on the town hall.Which is spending on itself,as that the building the council occupies.

DavidNovember 28th 2013.

The narrative that Manchester Council is strapped for cash and that's why Heaton Hall is neglected is nonsense.This building has been neglected for decades,one of which there was also a Labour Government in London. Heaton Hall has been neglected about the same time as the old Fire Station has been neglected.But the council are not vilified in the same way as Brittania.Such double standards.

GimboidNovember 28th 2013.

The council IS strapped for cash. To dispute that is denying reality. The spending on town hall and library was committed before huge budget cuts were imposed to on the council. Whether the council should have done more for HH before the cuts is a separate issue. Britannia are vilified because they have even less excuse for their inaction on the Fire Station - it's refurbishment and upkeep could have paid for itself as a profit-making enterprise, and if they didn't want to do that they could have sold it to someone who did. None of these are reasonable options for Heaton Hall.

DavidNovember 28th 2013.

Gimboid you seem to accept the recession as a excuse for Manchester Council inaction on Heaton Hall yet you don't accept it as one for Brittania Hotels.Its not just councils who been forced to make cutbacks.If you not noticed banks have not exactly been very willing to lend to business in last few years. The council have shown plenty of backing recently for the development of replacement of library theatre and corner house and they deluted their ownship of Manchester Airport in order to buy a London airport Stansted.

GimboidNovember 28th 2013.

I didn't say the recession was an excuse for the council, I pointed out that the budget cuts and financial constraint on the council were a matter of fact. I also said that "Whether the council should have done more for HH before the cuts is a separate issue", which you seem to have missed. Despite the recession, Britannia operate in a healthy sector, as evidenced by the number of new hotel builds in Manchester and high occupancy rates. At any rate Britannia have owned the building for over 20 years, through the greatest property boom and easiest finance in living memory. They really have no excuse, and this is why people vilify them. I don't even get where you get the idea people let the council off, double standards my arse. You will try and which way to slate the council.

GimboidNovember 28th 2013.

*any which way.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2013.

David I'm with you.

crisbyNovember 29th 2013.

Gimboid I'm with you.

AndrewNovember 27th 2013.

I think Gorton Monastery should be used as model to base the restoration of this beautiful building on. Heaton Park is just down the road from me so I often go for walks there. It is a real shame to see it such a state. I really do hope they return it to its former glory.

Poster BoyNovember 28th 2013.

Get out of jail card...

JanetNovember 28th 2013.

The hall has been a big part of my life, we used to visit as children, we have sat on the lions and had our pictures taken as every child who has ever visited has, so much so when I got married the hall and orangery were my one and only choice, and all of our guests said it was a perfect venue. I now take my grandson to see the animals and play in the park and yes have his picture taken sitting on ten lions. If the council only dose one decent thing it is to save this fabulous hall

AnonymousNovember 28th 2013.

MCC must get rid of all 'luxury" spending before the result of the Tory Spending Review kicks in in 2015 whatever government is elected. Cuts to local expenditure are a major feature of the 'proposed austerity for ever program' (DC's words at the gold plated Banquet) The Town Hall programme came or should have come out of reserves accumulated for that purpose rather than borrowed, and should be justified on effectiveness and efficiency grounds. I don't see how that can be done for Heaton Park. Perhaps Britannia will buy it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
crisbyNovember 29th 2013.

I don't know how the Town Hall works were funded but your assessment sounds right to me. We have to remember that TH Ext. and the Library are 60-70 years old and haven't had much done to them in that time; that project is normal property management (albeit on a massive scale) on two buildings which are, let's not forget, themselves both listed and probably not useable for anything other than what they were built for.

Craig DelaneyJanuary 3rd 2014.

Some work has started… anyone know whats going on?

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