Deal nearly done to secure future of Limekiln Café and toilet block

A SADDLEWORTH café has secured the purchase of the building it is housed in – and crucially the toilet block next to it is unaffected.

Limekiln Cafe and Brownhill Visitor Centre in Dobcross

Owners of the Limekiln in Dobcross made a public appeal to help secure Brownhill Visitor Centre and the neighbouring public convenience.

Now a deal has been agreed in principle, meaning the facilities will remain in place.

Councillor Garth Harkness, who represents Saddleworth North on Oldham Council, was ‘delighted’ with the progress.

He said: “I can confirm approval to confirm Heads of Terms with the owners of Limekiln Café, who are the existing tenant in respect of part of the Brownhill Visitors Centre, Wool Road, Dobcross.

“Subsequently, this report seeks approval to proceed with the Freehold sale of the whole of the asset which is in alignment with the council’s approved Medium Term Property Strategy.

“I am delighted at this decision, something Saddleworth councillors have wanted to happen and I have lobbied throughout this process on this.

“The community was clear we wanted the café to remain and that the café, toilets and car park should not be put at risk by any sale.

“The petition and the community challenged the council and stood up to protect this vital community asset has been successful.”

Owners of Limekiln cannot comment publicly until the sale is completed.

They were behind a petition to make sure the facilities are kept open if the building did go to auction but their offer to buy it before it went under the hammer appears to have been successful.

Mark and Jane Stewart said at the time: “OMBC are selling this building, the public toilets and car park. We have put in an offer to buy it and would like to continue running the toilets and car park as they are at the moment – free and for the public – and to develop the upstairs as an exhibition and function space for the community.

“It is highly unlikely that any private buyer would want to continue running the public facilities considering that there are up to £50,000 costs required to replace the faulty septic tank, therefore it is likely they will be closed.”

The Independent revealed the space occupied by the former visitor centre above can be transformed as Oldham Council decided not enough people visit it.

Cllr Sean Fielding, Oldham Council’s leader and cabinet member for economy and enterprise, said:

“A decision was taken to sell our interest in this site as part of our wide-ranging review of our property and assets.

“Due to our financial challenges and rising demand we are having to examine every area where savings can be found in order to protect frontline services.

“In this case, our costs for maintaining this building, including draining the septic tank daily, is massively exceeding our rental income.

“The former Brownhill Visitor Centre has been a small exhibition space upstairs in this building for a couple of years now, and it had poor footfall.

“However, I do want to reassure people that the work of our Countryside Ranger, who used to be based there, is continuing as usual across the district.”

According to the sale documents, at least £225,000 would have secured the property, which also comes with ‘a car park that holds 10-15 vehicles, a canopied walkway area and a detached toilet block.’

It also includes a pump house situated on the opposite side of the car park from the main building.

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