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Sha

Walton Hall and Gardens SOLD

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Well I'm going to win the ?67 million on Friday night so I'll sort it!

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Most concrete plan so far - but get it into context, that's a third of your win down in cash committed for the initial investment and the rest in a fund for maintenance over the remaining 125 years of your lease responsibilities. Like em or not, Contesa are offering some very real money to NOT own the place. :?

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What I meant was I'll sort it so I can do it up, move in and keep all the Chavs and ASBO ex councillors out!!

 

Refurb the greenhouse with a big pool in there, do up the stables into garages for the Corsairs....... I can see it now :lol::lol:

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......

Well, yes, but that would need them to have actually drawn up the lease and agreed terms and as far as anyone here has said, that's not happened.

/

 

LymmParent, the only people who would know whether or not the lease has already been drawn up would be those present in the back room meetings and as Diz has already pointed out these are held behind tightly closed doors. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if both the deal and lease had been already drawn up. Again as Diz has said these take some time. Do you really expect that if these were in the initial stages and that the decision of choice of developer was only to be made in June that the lease etc, etc, could all be sorted in time to be expecting a planning application/decision in the Autumn??? Nah!!!

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........ What we have is a place in need of finance, a company offering it and a council listening to the initial idea. It does actually make sound common sense to discuss ideas with Contesa, let them make proposals based on actual measuring up and costing, and THEN go out to the public with a plan for discussion. Otherwise, all they'd have is a hall full of people shouting and no facts.

:

 

 

LymmParent, do you have any details of what is actually needed?

such as, full reports on the structural state of the Hall, outbuildings, glasshouse etc plus a full breakdown of the costs of renovation and a full breakdown of maintenance costs? Do you think it's likely any member of the public will be freely offered this information? I don't.

Moreover, you must bear in mind that the costs of renovation and conversion of the hall into a luxury hotel, are going to be far higher than the costs of renovation if the Hall were to be retained by the town.

Have we ever been told what attempts (if any) have been made to secure funding from other sources? No!

 

Do you truly think that this council have ever had any real intention of a ?discussion? or any real form of consultation? If they had then they would have sought public opinion on whether or not the public WANTED private intervention before they employed extremely expensive marketing consultants etc, etc,etc.

Do you really think that after all the money they?ve spent so far, and the deals and leases they have negotiated, that should the public say they don?t want it, this council will just drop it? What attention did they pay to the people opposing their projects with Stockton Heath Primary, Longbarn Primary, Woolston High, Bewsey Old Hall etc,etc, etc,

none!

The only way forward for Walton Hall and the rest of Warrington?.is WITHOUT THEM!!!

HOPE BY TOMMORROW WE?RE RID OF THEM!!!

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It is not Contessa who are causing all the unrest and anger over the proposals it is the bloody council AGAIN !

 

You only have to read today's front page news regarding the closure of the cafe and hertiage yard (which closed in March) and the statement form our wonderful Lib Dim Council Leader :roll:

 

"Borough council leader Ian Marks confirmed closure of the facilities. But he denied allegations by campaigners fighting to keep the hall and gardens open to the public that this was because of a demand by hotel chain Contessa to have "vacant possession" of the site before going ahead with the deal.

Coun Marks was unable to say why the facilities had been closed in March

..... why's that then ??

 

Full news story below and some people have left comments under it

 

http://www.warrington-worldwide.co.uk/articles/7950/1/Walton-Hall-cafe-to-stay-closed/Page1.html

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Sha - two steps back and out of my face, please. I am not arguing the case for either side, just suggesting politely that as nobody knows anything for sure, all the shouting is just causing confusion and hostility. As usual.

 

NOBODY has the reports. Not me, not the Council, not Contesa. That's why there are people on site, measuring up. Yes indeed, I would like to see the back of the Lib Dems too, but that's not going to conjure up millions of pounds, it it?

 

You have no more idea than I do about whether the lease has been drawn up and signed. You are just noisier in your opinion. Logically, if the lease has been signed, then we'd have seen a huge splash in the Press about how Walton Hall had been saved by the LibDems via an innovative and amazing plan to harness commercial funding without selling the place. You think they'd have missed a chance like that just before the elections? When every pothole they've filled over the last two years has had its own Press release to remind us of their greatness?

 

I'll tell you what I DO know, cos I picked up the phone and asked. The Hall does around 50-60 weddings a year, at a hire cost of around ?2500 for the whole day. Catering is bought in. They have Saturdays available any month this year. So there's ?125,000-?150,000 a year, and realistically a decent manager and one other person on staff is going to eat a third of that. Cleaning, laundry, furniture, additional staff for events, VAT to be handed over, there is not a lot left.

 

And I'll tell you something else I DO know. There are weddings booked there for 2012 and those bookings WILL be honoured, including the prices. Bookings are not being confirmed for a period after September 2010, because of possible refurbishment work, depending on negotiations, but longterm, Walton Hall will be open for local weddings and I could have booked my choice of date this morning. So clearly not sold yet then.....

 

Dizzy is right - the Council cause the ill-feeling. Contesa are offering something that may well be a brilliant option to at least know we will have the Hall standing in good condition for the next century. It might make the place even better for everyone. But all the sneaking and stupidity makes everyone hostile from the start. Honestly, what kind of plank makes a statement to the Press denying the suggested reason for closure and then says he doesn't KNOW the reason for the closure. If you don't know why it did close, you obviously can't rule anything out, can you? Genius!

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Sha - NOBODY has the reports. Not me, not the Council, not Contesa. That's why there are people on site, measuring up.

 

The COUNCIL do have them LP.... structural reports, maintenance costs, running costs, costs involved with renovating the existing buildings, costs involved with renovating the glasshouse blah blah blah :wink:

 

As a council not only do they have a duty to keep a record of such things but also when applying for funding etc they need to know costs and state of buildings too..... and not forgetting that plans to renovate the Hall were passed a while ago before the council realised they didn't actually have sufficient money to cover their own costings.....

 

It would be very hard for them to have looked for prospective partners or to go tender if they didn't have any facts or figures to supplement the surveryors 'invitation of interes't wouldn't it :lol:

 

What the don't have at this stage though is the costings which purely relate to Contessa's huge renovation idea's as that is not the councils problem :D

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The cost and viability of Contesa's proposals are WBC's biggest issue, and until that's all in, nobody can agree anything. If the land is to be leased, not sold, then WBC is responsible for ensuring that the promises of improvement are genuine and achievable. If they go ahead and lease it off, then Contesa say "oops, sorry, no cash, change of plan" that's a total disaster.

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You know what... I will just give up trying to explain now as I don't think you are getting it LP :lol: No worries and good luck with your phone calls :wink::lol:

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Thanks for the Humberts Leisure link LP. I did read that when it first came out last year but as there weren't all the 'questions' surrounding it all at the time I forgot all about the original brochure. Much more interesting to read now and makes more sense :wink:

 

It's a beautiful place though and the Hall is stunning.

Anyway I'll keep my other thoughts to myself for now :wink:

 

But one little thing after just having another read....

 

It states that ALL the fixtures and fittings are to be included as they are owned by WBC. (would have to be included anyway as the Hall is Grade II listed.)

 

BUT... what about all the old furniture will that be SOLD. :shock: Some of it may be worth quite a bit of money (and presumably is all owned by WBC too).

 

Contessa may/may not want to buy it as it may/may not fit in with the feel of their hotel design. Shame if they don't but I spotted a rather nice bench chair on one of the photos that I'd quite like to have :D

 

As for photos.... I've just tried searching for internal photos of the Hall and can't find any online anywhere. If you come across any while you're searching can you let me know :D

 

Would love to see what the whole of the Hall looks like internally. Shame they don't let people look around it eh :cry:

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Think you can go and look round if you ask about weddings. Not sure, but my mates definitely did a recce. There are a few small pics in the wedding brochure online at warrington.gov.uk, but without being rude, candid interior shots are going to show up the sad bits as well as showing off the lovely bits.... not the thing for promoting it to brides! :wink:

 

I'm sure if you ask Contessa nicely, they'll sort you out any bits they don't want!! :lol:

 

I hadn't seen the Humberts one before, and obviously, it's not a guarantee that WBC are going to be 100% kosher (we all know what their track record is on that score!! :wink: ), but it's obviously been out there all that time, not stitched together in deadly secret - and if all that really can be done without losing public access, wouldn't it be a great place to go? Cautious optimism!

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The only issue that 'Save Walton Gardens' is tackling is that of access to the Gardens. It is clear from the public response that huge numbers of people value their free and easy access to the whole of the Gardens. At no time have Warrington BC been able to promise full access for the future. It doesn't need much intelligence to realise that a boutique hotel will not want the public wandering round, having picnics, playing games etc outside it's windows. There will be an exclusion zone. I have been shown the proposed zone by a senior officer. For your information, Contessa's plan to build a car park between the Hall and the Conservatory has been discouraged.

 

You probably will be able to access much of the Estate. Just remember it will be in the hands of a private concern anxious to recoup a big investment. We will be allowed to pay to enter, perhaps as users of the Hotel facilities.

 

I think the Campaign is concentrating on this one issue as a decision will be made at the June Executive meeting to accept the plan, which will already have been agreed before. If the Council can be forced to slow down and rethink what they are doing, a lot has been achieved.

 

The Council statement suggests that other avenues for finance have been explored. They did not send in the Heritage Lottery bid for the conservatory. What other sources of funding were explored? I understand specific requests are being made to the Council under the Freedom of Information Act to establish facts.

 

I do hope all those posters here who agree that Walton Hall Gardens should be saved in their entirety for the public have joined the Campaign, written to their Councillor or the Executive Committee decision makers, and copied and distributed some of the fliers that are appearing all over the place, from the website.

 

Time is running out. Should the public retain full and free access to the Gardens? And what can you do to help?

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Thanks for extra info Waltonian :wink:

 

In answer to your question YES I agree that the public should retain full and free access the the gardens and I have already signed your petition saying that :wink:

 

What was the reasoning behing the council not actually submitting their herritage lottery bid for the conservatory?

They stated in their 'business opportunity pack' produced last year that

A Heritage Lottery Fund Pre-Application has been submitted for the Glasshouse complex for redevelopment as an horticultural/retail/visitor/caf?/restaurant centre. Full details are available on request.

 

Where is the proposed exclusion zone that you have seen and which current areas does it include ?

 

Must admit the whole estate does look somwhat larger from this view than it actually feels when you are there.

 

waltonplan.jpg

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This was supposed to be a straight answer to the question of where the exclusion zone might be, but it grew.

 

 

The June executive meeting is getting closer. We are told a decsion will be confirmed/made then. There is only one proposition for the Gardens, the Contessa bid. In the words of one councillor, there is no plan B. The only available course of action for the people of Warrington if they wish to retain full and free access to the Gardens is to delay the deal and get some proper public debate.

 

The Campaign has asked Diane Terris a series of detailed questions under the Freedom of Information Act. The Council are allowed 20 working days to answer them. I bet they don't answer in less. Every other attempt to establish facts has been met with the bland statement you have all seen.

 

Since a meeting of the Walton Parish Council last year (June?) various people have been trying to get at the facts. Why are they secret? Through contacts with a whole range of people I had come to understand where the exclusion zone would be, and any official contact has failed to deny it.

 

I believe, starting at the top end, that the crazy golf and bowling green will be publically accessible (paying!) but the private area will be the top lawns (where people play games), the rose garden, all the formal garden, the woodland walk, some of the lawn between the house and the conservatory. Part of the golf club range of buildings and all the other buildings will become part of Contessa's plans. I repeat, they have to make a huge profit to pay for their ?26 million investment, so don't expect to use the buildings without paying.

 

The car park and extension field will probably be included in WBC figures of the land left accessible to the public (paying) Check the figures if they are published.

 

I understand that one improvement for the public will be a new biodiversity centre. To accommodate this, the Rifle Club will be kicked out.

 

I suspect that the rush to close the Heritage Yard and Cafe, just before the summer season, was to make the buildings available 'with vacant possession' as promsed to potential developers. Does anyone know if it is easier to get planning permission to develop listed buildings if they are unused? The offices used by the Park administration near the Hall in the laundry block are also being closed, and the staff moved to Town Hall. Same reason??

 

I do find it difficult to believe anything WBC say.

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Does anyone know if it is easier to get planning permission to develop listed buildings if they are unused? .

 

Off the top of my head as it's past my bedtime now but....

 

It's not so much that it's easier for planning permission as such as that is decided locally. For any Listed buiding to be developed or changes to be made to it English Heritage MUST to be consulted.

 

However the Heritage Yard/Cafe buildings in question are not formally listed in their own right as far as I an aware (but of course 'may' have possible curtilage listing status). A phone call to EH will easily confirm this. :wink:

 

Engligh Heritage will of course look more favourably on any suggestion towards possible re-development proposals (within limits of course) of any currently UNUSED building of merit rather than to see the building remain unused for the forseable future which could result in it deteriorating and falliing into a serious state of disrepair.

 

Like I said it's late and my brain is sleepy... PS did you get my personal message I sent you yesterday :D

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I believe, starting at the top end, that the crazy golf and bowling green will be publically accessible (paying!) but the private area will be the top lawns (where people play games), the rose garden, all the formal garden, the woodland walk, some of the lawn between the house and the conservatory. Part of the golf club range of buildings and all the other buildings will become part of Contessa's plans.

 

THE PLAN SHOWN BELOW IS ONLY MY PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF WHAT I THINK HAS BEEN SAID AND REFERED TO ABOVE...... IT IS NOT OFFICIAL... JUST MY INTERPRETATION!!

 

Sorry Waltonian but felt I needed to put that beofre I get accused of scaremongering or disclosing info that is not right :wink:

 

Have I marked off the correct area below that you believe and are telling us will allegidely become out of bounds to general public access. I hope not as that is almost half of the existing grounds :?:shock:

 

waltonplanrestrict.jpg

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Dizzy Personal message? How would I know? I got an email about Collette.

 

I didn't draw the lines mainly because I am not clever enough but also because I understand the pond might be accessible though I can't see how if the drive becomes the main access to the PROPOSED hotel. Some sort of corridor to half the pond?

 

The figure suggested to me was 50% loss. Looking at the map you can see that 50% of the remainder is the bowls and pitch and putt (paying)

 

'The Campaign' will be meeting politicians and councillors in the next few days, on behalf of the 14,000 people on the Facebook site and all the petitioners, including the paper petitions that have sprung up in pubs, shops and old peoples homes. Less rigorous than the General Election but the best that can be done.

 

The Council must slow down and be open and honest. If a decision is made now. it will be almost impossible to change it. All other considerations come later.

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Dizzy Personal message? How would I know? .

 

If you look up the screen slightly...to just under where it says Warrington-Worldwide (in big red letters) you will see 'FAQ Search Memberlist..... and on the right it should say 'You have 1 new message'.

 

Click on the link and it will open a new window and your PM (personal message) will be viewable there. It doesn't go to your email account like a normal email it just goes to your Warr WW 'Username' account and is only viewable through here by YOU when you are logged on.

 

No personal email addresses are shown and you can reply to your PM's from in there too by typing a reply then clicking POST at the bottom of the reply screen. (It posts a PM reply back to the sender and does not post it on the main forum page) .

 

It's just like a little personal/private 'chat' facility for times when it may not be appropriate to say something in public :lol: as no-one else can read it :wink:

 

I got an email about Collette.

Not from me as I have no idea who Collette is.

 

Hope that helped :D

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I understand the pond might be accessible though I can't see how if the drive becomes the main access to the PROPOSED hotel. Some sort of corridor to half the pond?

 

The figure suggested to me was 50% loss. Looking at the map you can see that 50% of the remainder is the bowls and pitch and putt (paying)

 

Bowls, crazy golf and pitch and put have always been 'paying'.

 

Maybe this then ??..... I have left the Heritage Yard and other buildings out of MY restriction zone guestimate as if the HY is going to be a pub they wont restrict public access too it as that would be daft :lol:

 

That would leave public access to the pond and would make sense (to me anyway). Hotel perimiter restrictions for the posh paying guests at the Hotel whilst retaining a 'fair' amount of FREE open access for the general public to still enjoy. :?

 

We are all only guessing and until the council actually tell the public what the suggested proposals actually are in a bit more details then that's all anyone can do.... guess, summise, worry, ponder, doubt etc etc :roll:

 

Why are they always so blummin secretive :roll:

 

waltonplanmarked2.jpg

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Diz,

The public will have access to the whole of the Estate.

The point is.....what type of access?

 

The public will have access to the hall...for the price of a 5*hotel room.

The public will have access to the golf club, pitch and put, pub etc, etc, etc ........if they pay the prices charged for these facilities.

 

Even though the walton hall estate is a publicly owned leisure facility, over the years parts of it have been taken for use whereby charges have been made ie. the golf club, the pitch and put area.

These areas were taken to provide income to cover maintenance costs of the estate. So in effect already a large portion has been taken from the public's free (as in non paying) open space.

 

The loss of these areas is bad enough, to take any more is a downright disgrace!

 

Maybe if you post a map showing the area that will be left as free (non paying) it will illustrate the true loss. From what I can make out from the limited information available the only non paying areas will be the children's play area and the zoo. And I wouldn't be surprised if these areas eventually became paying areas too.

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I will be getting married at Walton Hall this Sept, and i am getting worried reading all these reports that the Hall may now be sold and not be available after we have paid all this money. Trying to get hold of someone at Walton Hall to talk to is difficult especially now they are moving offices, does anyone know if they will have to honnour weddings already booked even if the sale goes through?

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OracleUK

I understand WBC have renovated areas so they can honour existing bookings. I am sure this is very worrying for you. According to the official statement from Warrington it will be some time before any further changes. But you will have to keep on trying to confirm with them. So many people on the Save Walton Gardens Facebook have remembered their happy wedding day in Walton Gardens. I sincerely hope you will join them.

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