An iconic glasshouse in a popular Stalybridge park is to be demolished after town hall chiefs ruled it was too expensive to refurbish it.
The imposing Stamford Park conservatory, which sits in the Grade-Two listed park, was closed to the public in 2015 over safety fears about its deteriorating state.
Chiefs say it cannot not be allowed to ‘rot any further’ and tough decisions have to be made amid a climate of cuts and shrinking budgets.
And now Tameside’s executive cabinet has voted for the structure to be knocked down and replaced with a new formal garden.
This represents the best ‘value for money’ and long-term sustainability, according to the town hall.
Originally built in 1907, the conservatory was completely rebuilt and restored to the original Victorian design from 1982, reopening three years later.
And a further extensive refurbishment was carried out in 2003.
But the report presented to councillors states that it currently ‘poses a risk to the safety of anyone entering the building’.
Two other options were also on the table; building a new conservatory or repairing the original building.
However, restoring it to its former glory was deemed ‘high risk’ as it was likely that costs would rise and work would be ‘complex and costly’.
It is estimated that replacing the rotten timbers and repairs to the windows and doors would set the authority back around £119,000.
And costs could escalate further if more deterioration is found during building work.
But repairs could not be guaranteed for much longer than five years, and it would not be a ‘long term solution’.
Officers say demolishing the structure is likely to lead to some ‘initial reputational risk’ but going forward the garden will be easy to maintain and would not have the same kind of hazards as the dilapidated conservatory.
Emma Varnam, assistant director of operations and neighbourhoods, told the meeting demolition of the replica Victorian conservatory was the council’s favoured option.
“It’s been in poor condition for over four years, we’ve had to have it closed for over four years due to the disrepair and it not being safe for the public to enter,” she said.
“This option will give us the most appropriate use of this space within this beautiful park and it will be value for money.
“And we will be able to include many different kinds of community groups in the upkeep, and many volunteers in this new form of garden will be able to use this space again.”
Building a replacement would cost in the region of £250,000 to half a million pounds.
By contrast, knocking it down will cost a fraction of that at just £11,250.
Designs of the proposed formal garden show ornamental planting, benches, paths, and pergolas created from the original ironwork within the conservatory
The new garden would cost approximately £39,654.
The Heritage Lottery Fund have been consulted and while they are ‘disappointed’ the conservatory is to be lost, they are ‘realistic about the pressures on local authority budgets and have accepted the proposals’, the report adds.
It had cost £10,000 a year to heat the conservatory as its boilers required oil fuel, and a further £2,000 has been spent in recent years repairing vandalism.
Stamford Park attracts thousands of visitors every year, and is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953.
It is popular for its water fountains, aviary, pavilion, bowling greens, playgrounds and games area and formal flower displays.
Councillors voted to approve the demolition of the conservatory, which will take place from September 2, lasting four weeks, and landscaping and planting will run until the end of the year.
Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in Tameside, Oldham or Rochdale? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org , calling us on 0161 621 6515 , tweeting us @rev962 or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.