Hopes civic hall could be saved are dashed

The Rose Centre in Lowton
The Rose Centre in Lowton

Efforts to save a popular community building appear to have reached the end of the line.

Wigan Council has confirmed that no bids were received to run the Rose Centre in Lowton during the six-month moratorium which was triggered as it is an asset of community value (ACV).

This is very disappointing because that building means a lot to many people in Lowton and it is a valuable community facility

Coun James Grundy

The local authority said at the beginning of the year that Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles was looking at putting in a bid to run the building formerly known as Lowton Civic Hall but this has also come to nothing.

The lack of potential community buyers means the owner is now free to sell the building, with plans pending to turn the Newton Road site into 36 homes.

However, campaigners who have battled to save the place say there are still question marks over whether the houses will actually be built.

They have also managed to preserve some of the civic hall’s history but admitted to being gutted that demolition now looks likely.

Coun James Grundy, Lowton East ward representative and deputy leader of the opposition, said: “Obviously this is very disappointing because that building means a lot to many people in Lowton and it is a valuable community facility.

“We will now have to wait and see what happens at the planning application stage. The site is very close to the theoretical spur of HS2 and who is going to buy a house right next to a project which could be in turmoil for the next 15 or 20 years?

“As part of Wigan Council’s adopted strategy there is an rule that says you cannot lose local facilities for housing without alternative provision being made, so we will certainly see what comes out of that.”

Ed Thwaite, chair of local residents’ group the Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (Lendf), said: “Having lost the battle to save it we have requested that when it’s taken down it’s done with environmental bosses in charge because there’s asbestos in it.

“We are disappointed but these things happen in life and we’re hoping to get something out of it for the community when they do start work.

“We can’t afford to run it as a community and the council can’t afford to buy it back.”

Local campaigners have managed to preserve the plaque from inside the civic hall and are now looking for a place to display it in Lowton.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for contracts and assets at Wigan Council, said: “During the ACV period any organisation can express an interest in the building to assess the viability of any proposals.

“There were no bids submitted to the owners during the period for expressions of interest.

“Now the listing has expired the owner is free to dispose of the building to whom they choose.”