Haigh Hall STILL occupied despite passing deadline to leave
Contessa Hotels spent £6 million turning the historic landmark into a luxury boutique hotel having taken it over in 2016.
But after failing to comply with its contract amid numerous complaints from the public, an eviction notice was issued against the firm by Wigan council.
The November 22 deadline has long passed but the council has confirmed Contessa Hotels is still occupying the Grade II listed building.
Talks about the ‘transition’ of Haigh Hall have been ongoing since the supposed end of the contract, though the future of the borough landmark remains uncertain.
A spokesperson for Wigan council said: “Haigh Hall is an asset that we know the people of the borough cherish and we remain committed to securing the best future for the site.
“A number of options are on the table and we will work with the wider community to look at the longer term options.
“Although several options may be available for consideration, the future use of Haigh Hall is yet to be determined.”
While private discussions have been held with stakeholders, there is a feeling that the council’s elected members should be able to have a say on Haigh Hall’s direction.
Independent councillor Bob Brierley has written to the cabinet urging them to set up a cross-party constitutional working group.“All elected members want to see assets kept and maintained in Wigan, and we should have a voice in this,” he said.
“Haigh Hall is Wigan. Everyone’s got a memory of it, whether it’s the building or the grounds. It’s so important to a lot of people.”
Coun Brierley has also put forward his own bold vision for the hall, which would see college students learning joinery and construction entrusted with the upkeep and restoration of the hall.
The hall would remain a wedding venue, with culinary apprentices tasked with running the kitchens under supervision.
Rooms on the upper floors could be turned into space for agricultural education with the aim of making use of the hall’s gardens and the wider Haigh Woodland Park.
But the council and charity Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles are submitting plans to the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop the old zoo area, which Coun Brierley earmarked for allotments.
He said: “It could be an amazing project that serves as a platform for the college while helping the community.
“The council needs to start thinking outside the box.”
Campaign group Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access To All says it will also remain open to any new ideas for the venue.
The group has clashed with Contessa Hotels in recent months after public access routes around the hall were gated off on several occasions.
A spokesperson said they were taking part in discussions with the council and the hotelier, adding: “I don’t think there’s any reason for someone to object to Coun Brierley’s proposals.
“We never objected to the venue being used as a hotel, and we still think the hall lends itself perfectly to being used in such a way so long as access for residents is respected.”
Cabinet members will consider the future of the hall on January 23, next year.