THE demolition of Formby Hall has been recommended for approval by the planning committee.

Residents and Councillors have fought against the halls disposal since developers Formby Hall Limited and Hilldale Housing bought the building from Rose Leisure last year.

The application for demolition will be heard at a planning meeting on Tuesday due to the amount of objections it has received.

Objections have poured in from Councillors alongside objections from CAMRA, Atherton Residents Association and 14 Atherton residents.

A petition signed by more than 5,000 people was also submitted to Wigan Council.

The grounds of objection include that the building is listed as an Asset of Community Value, concerns about the impact on neighbouring properties from dust, debris and known asbestos and the impact on the roads and nearby businesses.

Councillor Jamie Hodgkinson said: "The council can't say no to demolishing a building they can only approve how it is demolished.

"I have sent objections in and hope others have.
"I am disgusted the council have not supported the community. 

"There have also been some last minute support from other Councillors when they haven't been publicly active with residents to save this community asset from being demolished.

"I am disappointed that other councillors have not been upfront about there support when the community need them at the moment."

Demolition has already been refused once in October last year on the grounds of 'insufficient details’.

The developer, which is working alongside Hilldale Housing, wants to knock down the building to create a nursing home and flats for independent supported living.

Stuart Gerrard, chairman of Atherton Residents Association said: “I just cannot see the point in pulling it down.

“The ACV will still be on the land so they won’t be able to do what they want with it.

“We would welcome them if they chose another site in Atherton that needed re-development rather than our community hall.

“As for Wigan Council, they have ignored their core strategy all together.

”But we will have our say at the meeting on Tuesday and take it from there."

Wigan Council said it has "no powers to stop demolition".

Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “While we understand the concern locally it is important that people understand that the council has no powers to stop the demolition of a non-listed building if the application criteria is fulfilled.

“The council’s planning committee cannot consider whether the building should or should not be demolished. 

“It can only consider whether the method of demolition is appropriate and if there are acceptable plans for the restoration of the site after demolition has taken place.

“Formby Hall was sold by the council five years ago along with four other civic venues due to significant financial pressure caused by the council having to save £100m over five years.

“Despite the council applying a covenant to its use and putting in a significant amount of effort to encourage community ownership of the venue the building is now in private ownership and our powers are restricted regarding its future.”

After its application was refused Formby Hall Limited submitted furher details of hours of work, contractors, a methodology for demolition, including removal of asbestos, details of site supervision and safety procedures and results of a bat survey also showed no evidence of present or previous use.

The approval from the council reads: “Having regard to all the available information and relevant material considerations, it is concluded that the applicant has adequately demonstrated that the demolition works can be carried out in a satisfactory fashion, and therefore, that prior approval should be granted.

“It should be noted that the granting of prior approval for demolition does not override any covenants or other private restrictions which may exist.”