COULD Atherton’s entertainment hub Formby Hall be knocked down to make way for a new nursing home and flats for disabled people?
That now looks the likely outcome after news of the plans to transform the community venue, one of the town’s jewels in the crown for public events, emerged.
It has been claimed the previous owners of the Alder Street hall, Rose Leisure, have sold it to Hilldale Housing Association who are working with Caring Alternatives to create the accommodation for elderly and disabled people.
A former employee at Caring Alternatives claims she attended a meeting with Wigan Council to discuss the plans for Formby Hall.
However, the town hall has strenuously denied this and says it has had no discussions about the venue’s future.
News of the venue’s closure sparked anger among community groups and residents after it recently emerged despite a lack of official communication from Rose Leisure.
The ex-employee said: “I’ve seen the plans and they are set in stone. The idea is to flatten Formby Hall and put on there a nursing home and some supported living flats for people with learning disabilities.
“I think the plans are an absolute joke. I was quite disgusted the first time I heard about them, though obviously there’s nothing wrong with providing supported housing.
“It just doesn’t seem a suitable site. There are limited grounds and the plans are in place for a big site.
“It would be a pop-up building so Formby Hall would be flattened and it would be up within the space of a month.”
Hilldale confirmed it is involved in the project, but Caring Alternatives were unavailable for comment.
The latest news appears to be the final nail in hopes which had been expressed in the Atherton area that the closure might only be temporary or to allow renovation work to take place.
Atherton-based company Caring Alternatives already owns the Cranleigh Court Care Centre apartments just off High Street in Atherton and is also in charge of the Hillcrest nursing home in Tyldesley.
The plans to knock the hall down and build the home and flats will also require planning permission and no application has yet been submitted to the local authority.
Wigan Council says it is still awaiting communication from the new owner of the building.
A town hall spokesman said: “Our adult social care team has not had any meetings with any developer over proposals for Formby Hall.
“When the property was sold our terms of sale required the property to be run as a public venue until at least March 2016. Under certain circumstances the owner may apply to the council for a change of use.
“We understand the property has been sold on and we will consider any request from the new owner if and when the council receives it.”
Formby Hall is set to shut at the end of July following the sale, which sparked widespread anger among the groups which currently use the venue.
The hall has been home to some of the biggest events in Atherton’s calendar including the Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash, whose organisers are currently searching for an alternative venue.
Formby Hall has also played host to local and touring arts shows, music concerts, weddings, private functions, business events and awards’ nights.