A VISITOR centre being used as an exhibition space is set to go because the building housing it is being auctioned off.
The property including Brownhill Visitor Centre on Wool Road in Dobcross will go under the hammer on February 19.
It has been stressed that Lime Kiln Café, which occupies the ground floor, will not be affected by the sale.
However, the Independent can reveal the space occupied by the former visitor centre above can be transformed as Oldham Council has decided not enough people visit it.
Cllr Sean Fielding, Oldham Council leader and cabinet member for economy and enterprise, said:
“A decision has been 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.
“The building has been prepared for an auction on the basis of the Lime Kiln café tenants remaining in place.
“The tenants do, of course, have an option to bid themselves, or they will need to have discussions with any new owner who will also be responsible for the future public toilet provision.”
OMBC’s decision has been criticised by local councillors.
Saddleworth South councillor Jamie Curley said: “I’m really disappointed about this. It is a real asset to the community and I have used it a lot myself.
This seems to be yet again a snub for Saddleworth with a great asset being sold off for a developer to cash in on the location instead of providing a much needed family attraction.
“Uppermill is more than just a ‘night time economy’ destination but selling off attractive family orientated assets like this is a slap in the face. Yet again Saddleworth is a cash cow rather than a community to be nurtured.
“I will certainly be pressing the case for this to remain a community asset.”
At least £225,000 will secure 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.
Sale documents revealed the owners of the Lime Kiln – Mark and Louisa Stewart – pay £9,000 a year in rent so they can be housed under the Visitor Centre.
However, the authority is set to include a buy clause if the tenant vacates the building and the site is not developed within three years.
Yet the Independent has learned the couple, who live in Scouthead, has requested an extension of the lease until 2030.
Auctioneers Pugh describe Brownhill as a, ‘freehold detached two storey stone built property which is being sold part let to a café by way of a lease which is holding over at a rent of £9,000 per annum.
‘The property being sold includes a car park to the front plus detached toilet block. The site area is approximately 712 sq m (815 sq yds).
‘Part of the property is let by way of a five-year lease at a rent of £9,000 per annum from 27th July 2012 granted to two individuals and trading as the Lime Kiln Café.’
Brownhill Countryside Centre, which the whole building is called, is part of an auction on February 19 at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.