Campaigners are claiming victory in their bid to save an important part of Nelson's heritage.
The group of local councillors and residents have been fighting to prevent the demolition of Nelson’s late-Victorian era Cemetery Lodge, a decision which has now been overturned by Pendle Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.
The original decision to demolish the Lodge, subject to approval by the Secretary of State, was made by Nelson Area Committee.
Marsden ward councillors Neil McGowan and Tommy Cooney, who both opposed the demolition, formed a group, Save Marsden’s Heritage, with residents.
Coun. McGowan said: “We have been overwhelmed by the fury this demolition decision caused. Before we knew it, we had a new group, a 1,400 signature petition and a banner, lovingly made by local children. Residents flocked to our councillor surgeries to protest and also those of our MP, Andrew Stephenson.”
As the Nelson Area Committee went against officer’s advice, which was to either restore the historic Lodge and then let it, or sell it in its current state, the decision was referred to the Policy and Resources Committee. The committee is composed of councillors from across the borough and is politically balanced.
The committee decided that further consideration should be given to achieving the maintenance of all the listed building elements of Nelson Cemetery to as high a standard as possible and a report on all options should submitted to a future meeting.
During the meeting, four residents spoke passionately about why the Lodge should be saved and how the building was viable whether it was to be repaired and let, or sold. A summary was provided by Coun. McGowan before the floor was opened to debate.
Coun. Paul Foxley, who is an architect, explained the significance of the 1894 Lodge, which is thought to have been designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse, to the Grade II Listed Cemetery walls and gates. He explained that the council is duty bound to preserve its heritage structures and buildings.
Coun. Sarah Cockburn-Price spoke about the regret many feel about the loss to the nation of important, historic buildings. She contrasted the pride of Marsden’s Victorian councillors with the short-sighted pragmatism of councillors today.
Resident, Barbara Moore, who lives opposite the cemetery, said: “We came together with a common purpose and we won. It just goes to show that people power works, so we plan to continue our crusade to highlight and combat threats to Marsden’s precious heritage.”