Park lodge sale comes under fire

Sale below market rate described as 'bad news' because community facility will be lost for ever.

Alexandra Park: issues forecast
Alexandra Park: issues forecast

The sale of a grade II listed period park lodge in a £2.3m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)-supported park for a guide price of £75,000 has been widely criticised.

The lodge is in Alexandra Park in Oldham. Estate agent Unity Partnership said it could be converted into a three-bedroom house and it is now under offer after being on the market since 2011.

Consultant and park heritage expert David Lambert said the sale is "bad news" because it will take the lodge out of the landscape of the park and mean it is lost as a community facility for ever.

He added: "It will have a fence around it, domestic clutter and cars. It might be painted. It's a terribly sad situation, especially in Oldham, which used to be a beacon of park management."

HLF head of landscape Drew Bennellick pointed out that if the lodge is sold it would cause problems, such as access and rubbish issues, for parks managers.

"Ironically there were two or three businesses running out of Portakabins in the park," he said. "If they had come to us maybe we could have come up with a project that could have leased it out. It's a great shame."

Lambert said he has been involved in numerous HLF schemes that saw park lodges valued as community assets.

On property website Rightmove, three-bedroom houses, mostly terraced, close to the park are on sale from £90,000 to £125,000.

"It looks incredibly cheap for a beautiful building like that," said Lambert. "A price of £75,000 is a drop in the ocean and it's not going to make a jot of difference to the budget."

Council comment

"Oldham Council, like local authorities across the country, continuously assesses its property portfolio so it can get the best use out of its buildings. Four years ago we carried out a strategic review of all our assets and the lodge was found to be surplus to requirements and was placed on the market. Our aim is to ensure the best use of all council properties and by offering these on the open market we aim to provide better services for residents at no additional cost."

Emma Alexander, executive director for commercial services, Oldham Council

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