CAMPAIGNERS battling to save the John Nield Conservatory in Stamford Park from demolition have received a boost with a six month stay of execution.
It follows confirmation from Historic England they have accepted an application from the Save The Stamford Park Greenhouse community group to have the building listed.
Historic England, which requested Tameside Council for access to the conservatory, has surveyed the glasshouse to see if it merits being given listed status.
During this process, no demolition is allowed to take place until Historic England has completed its work.
The conservatory was originally opened on October 13, 1907 by Mr Nield, a former Justice of the Peace.
In a statement, Historic England said: “One of our inspectors visited the conservatory in Stamford Park on August 9 and the case is now out for consultation until September 3.
“There is no set time frame for deciding listing cases but our advice goes over to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the final decision is made by the Heritage Minister.”
The positive news came shortly before campaigners held a public meeting at West Hill High School at which councillors and local MPs Jonathan Reynolds and Angela Rayner were criticised.
About 50 members of the public attended to hear plans to save the crumbling conservatory, closed since 2015, which Tameside Council wants to demolish and replace with a community garden at a cost of £50,000.
Stuart Pridham claimed “nobody in the council is on our side”. He was critical of councillors, claiming they had failed the community group.
“Councillors came to our protest and pledged their support but they have since turned their backs and followed the party whip at the full council meeting,” said Mr Pridham.
Ian Pickering, who also attended the full council meeting, said he was “shocked” what he witnessed.
Several members of the public had contacted Mr Reynolds and Ms Rayner but claimed they received replies saying they were unable to intervene as it came under Tameside Council’s remit and out of their hands.
Both MPs, however, when contacted by the Correspondent, reiterated their desire to see the conservatory saved. They both urged the council to enter into dialogue with the community group, something the council has been reluctant to do.
Chartered surveyor Kevin Aspin, who had advised Tameside Council on community asset issues over a 30-year-period up to 2011, is helping the community group.
He addressed the meeting, explaining in his view the conservatory is a heritage asset which is an integral part of Stamford Park.
Mr Aspin added Tameside Council had done little to consider what the public want and he was here to help the community group put together a “robust case” for it to transferred to them and to become a community asset.
He pointed out, if successful, the community group would probably be given a 25-year lease at a peppercorn rent.
Mr Aspin added the community group in its plans needs to maximise social interaction and inclusivity as well as providing evidence of revenue streams.
It was also revealed at the meeting that a number of Freedom of Information requests had been submitted to Tameside Council for specific information relating to the conservatory that was built in 1907.
While a Tameside Council report pointed to the cost of heating the conservatory, Matthew Clarke, chair of the community group, replied it does not necessarily need to be heated.
“We would like to turn it into an eco-friendly building with solar panels and wind turbines,” he said.
He also favoured getting construction students from Tameside Council involved as well as builders’ merchants and trade groups to donate materials which would reduce the cost of restoration work.
“We believe it would not cost anywhere near as much as Tameside Council has suggested,” he continued.
It was also suggested a fundraising bank account should be set up while former Stayley Cricket Club president Martin Harvey advised on securing grants. He helped Stayley get £50,000 from the National Lottery to refurbish its clubhouse.
John Fletcher believed the conservatory could be a “fantastic resource” for the borough, something reinforced by Lee Huntbach, Tameside’s only Green Party councillor.
The community group is looking for volunteers, especially ones with legal, project management, marking and financial skills.
• The committee is: chair, Matthew Clarke; vice-chair, Jane Whittaker; secretary, Jennifer Penn; communications co-ordinator, Massimo Malacrino; treasurer, Gill Stirrup; programme co-ordinator Ruth Smith; committee members, Lesley Mayi, Paige Alexandra.