Sandbach Memories: Plans for Old Hall Hotel
ACTION group members fighting to save Sandbach's historic Old Hall Hotel say they will transform the building into a tourist attraction if a council is forced to take it over.
Members of the Save the Old Hall Action Group (SOHAG) believe forming a charitable trust to run the hall as a business could be their last chance of preserving the Grade I listed 17th Century landmark.
They believe the hall could be transformed into a museum for Sandbach's industrial past, exhibiting the work of Foden's and ERF, an education centre for schools and a tourist information centre.
A spokesman for the North West Development Agency said: "The Old Hall could even become the first stop on a tour of Cheshire's famed Tudor and Elizabethan houses."
Although the hall's asset managers Criterion are currently carrying out temporary but essential repairs to waterproof the roof, there are still fears for the building's long term future.
The dilapidated hall is in urgent need of repair and the incoming Cheshire East Council will be advised to serve a building repair notice on the owners to force them to carry out the complete restoration.
The council's last option is to serve a compulsory purchase order.
SOHAG chairman Malcolm Thurston said: "We will be working hand in glove with Cheshire East.
"If the council is to go through with compulsory purchase it would be on the understanding that we would immediately take over the hall.
"This is a big ask and we would need professional people skilled in law and accountancy to help run the business.
"Obviously we would expect the owners to fight any compulsory order and we are advised the whole process would take at least five years."