SINCE THE announcement by the British Red Cross that the War Memorial Cottage Hospital was to be sold the Town Council has been working on behalf of the community to seek a satisfactory outcome. The Town Council established a working group comprising Cllrs Stewart Gardiner (lead), Andrew Malloy and Peter Coan with Mr Derek Empson MBE, Mrs Sylvia Chaplin and Mrs Mabel Taylor with the aim of protecting the building and seeking a suitable outcome for the community commensurate with the investment provided by Knutsford over a number of years.
An initial attempt to protect the building through registering it as an Asset of Community Value was rejected by Cheshire East Council on the grounds it didn’t meet the statutory criteria. The Town Council then applied to have the building listed as a Building of Architectural or Historical Interest (a listed building) which was rejected by Historic England in November on the grounds it was not of sufficient interest in a national context (see rejection report here). The Town Council is now seeking to have the building designated as a Locally Listed Heritage Asset.
In June the Town Council met with the British Red Cross where it was reinforced that the value attributable to the asset is directly and solely a result of the investment of the Knutsford community and set out a request for 25% of the profits from sale. Such funds would either be placed into a Community Trust Fund to benefit the health and wellbeing of the Knutsford Community or used to fund new community facilities.
Despite being chased numerous times, the British Red Cross has not responded to the Town Council’s requests and as such the Town Council has now publicly written to all trustees of the charity and other interested parties. You can view a copy of the letter here.
“We have been patient in waiting for the Red Cross to respond to our concerns and our request and are disappointed that they have done little but acknowledge our requests” said Cllr Stewart Gardiner, lead member for the Council’s discussions with the Red Cross.
“This is an extremely emotive subject for our community and it is unfortunate that little can be done to protect the building beyond appealing to the new owner when the sale goes through.”
- The Knutsford War Memorial Cottage Hospital opened in 1922. It was created as a war memorial for the town and surrounding parishes with funds raised through donation and fundraising events from the local community
- In 1948, with the advent of the National Health Service, the building was taken as part of the new NHS.
- Throughout its life as a hospital the Knutsford community has continued to invest in the building; raising almost £70,000 (excluding inflation, land values etc).
- The original donation of £17,464 in 1922 would be worth around £895,000 when factoring in inflation
- The hospital closed in 1994 and was sold to the British Red Cross. At the time the Town Council advocated a leasehold arrangement but the NHS sold the freehold.
- The Hospital is Knutsford’s war memorial and it must be noted that the Haron Baronian statue is not presently a public war memorial.