Haigh Hall campaigners meet with council chiefs to discuss right of way

Campaigners have once again met Wigan Council to discuss its bid to get the status of a path at the centre of an access row enshrined in law.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:21 pm
Haigh Hall

Both the Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access To All group and town hall said the talks about a Public Right of Way application for one of the major routes past Haigh Hall were extremely positive.

The residents’ group has asked the Highway Authority to grant the formal right of way status on the asphalt access route past the grade-II listed landmark.

And it held discussions with local authority officers to work through some of the legal options available.

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An application for the public right of way was submitted after residents were repeatedly barred from the paths around the hall by Contessa Hotels, which has been served a notice to leave the site by the council following a litany of complaints and problems.

And the group was once again forthright at its most recent meeting with civil servants as to what it felt was necessary to ensure the public’s right of access is properly guaranteed in the future.

A Friends group spokesperson said: “It was a very positive meeting. We discussed the logistics of what can possibly be done.

“The council seemed quite open-minded about it. We feel they have genuinely learned from the past issues.

“They asked us to trust them but we expressed we couldn’t take things on trust, it’s got to be written down and formalised.

“We can’t allow the same debacle to happen again.

“We were also absolutely categorical that access must be up the main drive towards the hall and more importantly around the hall on both sides.

“That’s something we are 100 per cent committed to and we made that clear. There will be no compromises on that aspect.

“The procedure can be frustratingly slow but we’ve been at this for 12 months so what is another six? We are optimistic.”

The group says the looming departure of Contessa from the site does throw up more questions for the council, which is also a landowner in the area.

It says the public right of way application and access guarantees will have to take into account what the hall might conceivably be used for going forward.

Further meetings are now planned with the council’s chief executive Alison McKenzie-Folan and the town hall footpaths officer.

A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “It was a constructive meeting with the Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access To All group.

“We continue to work with the members and listen about their ideas for the future of Haigh Hall.”