Wigan campaign group calls for Haigh Hall to be 'properly restored for future generations'
Campaigners hoping to secure the future of Haigh Hall have declared it has “come back home” as town hall chiefs prepare to receive the keys.
A High Court judge has ruled Scullindale Global Ltd, operators of Haigh Hall Hotel, must vacate the historic building by 1pm on Friday, June 18.
In return, Wigan Council will pay £4.9m to the firm, including £920,000 for fixtures and fittings, though Scullindale was ordered to pay the local authority’s legal fees in full, expected to be more than £300,000.
Campaign group Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access For All welcomed the judgement made by Judge David Hodge QC.
A spokesman said: “The hall has come back home. Now it can be properly restored for future generations of Wigan people.”
They thanked everyone involved in the campaign aimed at “protecting and securing Haigh Hall for future generations of Wigan people”.
This included Lord Crawford, those who attended a peaceful walk and picnic in the hotel’s grounds, signatories of a petition for a public right of way and people who wrote to the council with complaints about restricted access.
The group said: “It has taken over two-and-a-half years of continuous pressure for the public’s voice to be heard.
“Now who would like to take a celebratory walk along the prow route and to freely picnic on the lawns once again?
“We could plan this to coincide with the council getting back the keys.
“Let’s all take back ownership, enjoy the success and work with the council to ensure a secure future for our beloved Grade 2*-listed jewel in the crown.”
A lease to convert Haigh Hall into a hotel was agreed in 2016 and was due to run for 199 years, with £400,000 paid to the council.
But people were unhappy about the way the site was operated and amid concerns with the work done to the building, the council decided to use a break notice in the contract in 2019.
It claimed Scullindale had not met a “milestone” in May 2018 by which time certain work should have been done.
The local authority took the case to court when Scullindale did not leave the building, arguing it was entitled to terminate the lease and reacquire the hall at market value.
The hotel operators, along with director Amir Madani and Craig Baker, from Haigh Hall Hotel Ltd, disputed this, claiming work had been done in accordance with planning permission and it was operating as a four-star hotel.
But after a trial lasting 12 days and several weeks of deliberation, Judge Hodge QC found in favour of the council earlier this year.
He said the authority’s use of the break notice was valid and that Scullindale was in breach of the lease when it failed to give up vacant possession of the historic building in November 2019.
However, he dismissed the claim against Mr Baker and Mr Madani.
It has not yet been revealed what will happen to Haigh Hall once it is transferred back to the council’s control.
A council spokesperson said: “Wigan Council continues to assess options regarding the future of Haigh Hall and fully recognises its importance as a cherished heritage asset.
“Further updates regarding plans for its future use will be developed and shared as part of the widespread engagement programme with residents and visitors that is taking place.”
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