COUNCILLORS have approved plans to turn Haigh Hall into a boutique hotel and spa.
Members of Wigan Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the application – with conditions – submitted by Contessa Hotels at today’s meeting (Tuesday).
The plans will see the Grade II listed hall restored to its former glory and transformed into a luxury four-star boutique hotel complete with 30 en-suite bedrooms, a spa and a fitness centre. A new car park, access off Higher Lane, landscaping and an additional ceremony room located on the roof of the hotel form part of the plans.
The £6m restoration of Haigh Hall is at the centre of a wider regeneration masterplan for Haigh Woodland Park, which includes a new family adventure zone with a high ropes area and an innovative adventure golf course, improved footpaths and heritage trails and a kitchen courtyard within the existing Stables Courtyard.
The application will also see Haigh Hall removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register, which aims to protect and manage the historic environment.
Councillors were told the creation of the new driveway through the woodland could be classed as inappropriate development on the green belt but it was permissible because it was vital to the hotel’s viability.
Original features such as stone urns on the parapet will also be reintroduced through the refurbishment and the car park on the grassed area in front of the hotel would be screened and landscaped.
Council planning officer Richard Taylor said: “This is a comprehensive renovation but the changes to the overall fabric of the building are fairly minimal.
“A number of footpaths will be reinstated around the estate and hall as well. “These proposals strike a reasonable balance between the need to preserve the special historic interest of Haigh Hall and secure a viable long-term future for the building.”
Councillors unanimously welcomed the plans, although Coun John Hilton said he was concerned about safety measures where the new driveway crosses the miniature railway.
However, Mr Taylor said the Office of Rail and Road had raised no objections to the proposal.
The committee was also reassured the new car park would not mean there was no suitable grassed area for fun days and other public events.
Craig Baker, director of Contessa Hotels, said: “Our plans for Haigh Hall are progressing really well. The hall is steeped in history and our main priority is about restoring and transforming it back to its very finest. The hall is one of the most iconic buildings of its type in the region and we are eager to get started on our plans.”
Haigh Hall and Country Park is already a major visitor destination attracting around 300,000 visits each year. However, research indicates that enhancing the site and improving the existing facilities could attract even more visitors and bring much-needed revenue to the area.