Large swathe of historic Smithills estate to be sold for £3.5 million

Part of the 1,700-acre esate with historic Smithills Hall in the background

Part of the 1,700-acre Smithills Estate

Smithills Hall

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , reporter

A LARGE part of the historic Smithills estate is to be sold for £3.5 million.

Bolton Council bosses have agreed terms for the 1,700-acre plot to the west of Smithills Dean Road to be transferred to conservation charity The Woodland Trust.

The deal will see town hall chiefs spend £500,000 on the Grade I listed Smithills Hall, which will remain council property, with the rest of the money spread across other council projects.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The council has the clear objective of trying to sell the majority of the Smithills Estate including the estate infrastructure such as unadopted roads, the spring water supply system, bridges and culverts.

“Therefore, in 2013, the council entered into negotiations with the Woodland Trust for the land and infrastructure.

“The council has now agreed the provisional terms for a sale of the freehold title to the non-core area of the Smithills Estate.

“Land to be sold includes land subject to existing farm tenancies, woodland and the public car park at Barrow Bridge.”

Neither Bolton Council or The Woodland Trust were willing to confirm the value of the sale, citing it as confidential information.


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But The Bolton News understands The Woodland Trust is spending about £3.5 million on the venture.

The price includes ongoing management and associated costs, not just the amount paid outright for the land.

Alistair Crosby, regional manager at The Woodland Trust said: “We have now agreed the overall terms for a sale of the freehold title to the majority of the estate excluding Smithills Hall and the land surrounding it.

“The Trust has a good track record of working with landowners and local people to help create vibrant, accessible areas where people can engage with and learn about nature.”

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Roger Hayes, for Smithills, said the move was positive as the council had not been properly maintaining the land recently, due to a lack of resources.

He added: “At the moment, they have agreed terms, but it is hoped that the deal goes through. I think this will be a good thing for the community.

“The council was no longer able to maximise the potential of this land, mainly because of budget cuts.

“Not only does it give a substantial amount of money to the council, but we believe it will now be managed in a way that is more sympathetic to the environment than has been done by the council.

“We need to raise the capital receipts and this is a sensible way of doing it I believe.”

Comments (23)

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7:48am Wed 5 Feb 14

Reebok Rhythm says...

What will the ramifications be of selling off this land and will it still be public accessible? I'm very pleased to read it will be for the purpose of conservation as opposed to development. If it's good enough for Councillor Roger Hayes then it should be ok as I've always found him to be approachable and helpful irrelevant of the constituency he represents.
What will the ramifications be of selling off this land and will it still be public accessible? I'm very pleased to read it will be for the purpose of conservation as opposed to development. If it's good enough for Councillor Roger Hayes then it should be ok as I've always found him to be approachable and helpful irrelevant of the constituency he represents. Reebok Rhythm
  • Score: 7

8:41am Wed 5 Feb 14

Bert_Anchovy says...

Great news, anything that is taken out of the hands of this useless labour council has to welcomed.
Great news, anything that is taken out of the hands of this useless labour council has to welcomed. Bert_Anchovy
  • Score: 53

8:44am Wed 5 Feb 14

Cakelly says...

This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years!
This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years! Cakelly
  • Score: 30

8:53am Wed 5 Feb 14

The Righteous One says...

Cakelly wrote:
This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years!
They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!!
[quote][p][bold]Cakelly[/bold] wrote: This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years![/p][/quote]They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!! The Righteous One
  • Score: -101

9:09am Wed 5 Feb 14

Jim271 says...

And in five years it will be houses, its a way of building on greenbelts
And in five years it will be houses, its a way of building on greenbelts Jim271
  • Score: -161

9:42am Wed 5 Feb 14

martha says...

The Woodland Trust sells small woodland throughout the country. In the north of England, a buyer can expect to pay £10,000 per acre. On that basis the Smithills estate of 1700 acres will eventually bring in £17,000,000, SEVENTEEN MILLION pounds. It has been sold by Bolton Council for £3.5 million. Doesn't look like a good deal for ratepayers to me.
How many organisations were invited to tender? Was there any kind of competitive bid?
John
The Woodland Trust sells small woodland throughout the country. In the north of England, a buyer can expect to pay £10,000 per acre. On that basis the Smithills estate of 1700 acres will eventually bring in £17,000,000, SEVENTEEN MILLION pounds. It has been sold by Bolton Council for £3.5 million. Doesn't look like a good deal for ratepayers to me. How many organisations were invited to tender? Was there any kind of competitive bid? John martha
  • Score: 35

9:43am Wed 5 Feb 14

MissPeg says...

Reebok Rhythm wrote:
What will the ramifications be of selling off this land and will it still be public accessible? I'm very pleased to read it will be for the purpose of conservation as opposed to development. If it's good enough for Councillor Roger Hayes then it should be ok as I've always found him to be approachable and helpful irrelevant of the constituency he represents.
It's the Woodland Trust, I doubt they'd buy it to make it private.
[quote][p][bold]Reebok Rhythm[/bold] wrote: What will the ramifications be of selling off this land and will it still be public accessible? I'm very pleased to read it will be for the purpose of conservation as opposed to development. If it's good enough for Councillor Roger Hayes then it should be ok as I've always found him to be approachable and helpful irrelevant of the constituency he represents.[/p][/quote]It's the Woodland Trust, I doubt they'd buy it to make it private. MissPeg
  • Score: 9

9:45am Wed 5 Feb 14

MissPeg says...

Jim271 wrote:
And in five years it will be houses, its a way of building on greenbelts
Did you actually read the article? The land is being sold to the Woodland Trust, you know, that charity that focuses on destroying all of the woodland in the country. (Of course they're going to preserve it and fight for its protection.)
[quote][p][bold]Jim271[/bold] wrote: And in five years it will be houses, its a way of building on greenbelts[/p][/quote]Did you actually read the article? The land is being sold to the Woodland Trust, you know, that charity that focuses on destroying all of the woodland in the country. (Of course they're going to preserve it and fight for its protection.) MissPeg
  • Score: -8

10:23am Wed 5 Feb 14

Jim271 says...

Its easier to build on Greenbelt land if its owned by a private company rather than the council.

They did the same thing with the Valley which is now a cinema complex.
Its easier to build on Greenbelt land if its owned by a private company rather than the council. They did the same thing with the Valley which is now a cinema complex. Jim271
  • Score: -9

10:49am Wed 5 Feb 14

boltonchap says...

The Righteous One wrote:
Cakelly wrote:
This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years!
They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!!
For once I agree with the righteous one. Plus why is the price confidential? The land is owned by the council on our behalf so why the secrecy? This self-serving cadre of cabinet members for this and cabinet member for that are never ever put under pressure from the BN so called journalists to answer the type of blindingly obvious questions that crop up regularly in these forums.
Transparency in Bolton politics does not exist. The politburo treats us council taxpayers with contempt.
[quote][p][bold]The Righteous One[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cakelly[/bold] wrote: This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years![/p][/quote]They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!![/p][/quote]For once I agree with the righteous one. Plus why is the price confidential? The land is owned by the council on our behalf so why the secrecy? This self-serving cadre of cabinet members for this and cabinet member for that are never ever put under pressure from the BN so called journalists to answer the type of blindingly obvious questions that crop up regularly in these forums. Transparency in Bolton politics does not exist. The politburo treats us council taxpayers with contempt. boltonchap
  • Score: -52

11:37am Wed 5 Feb 14

Old Boltonian says...

The Righteous One wrote:
Cakelly wrote:
This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years!
They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!!
My guess is that the lion's share of development monies has gone to BL1. Driving around these areas and observing all the expensive traffic calming, bollarded off closes and streets, rows and rows of houses done up with magnificent double glazing and new roofs, I could go on........but could voting intentions and post code be related to spend? About ten bob spent on BL7 in the last twenty years.
[quote][p][bold]The Righteous One[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cakelly[/bold] wrote: This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years![/p][/quote]They have done that with many thinsg they own - even during teh more prosperous years - this then leads to ask the question, what has Bolton Council done with all teh money over the years??? What has all the millions and billions over the years (prosperous and last 7 years) been spent on or has it been syphoned? I think this needs a thorough government cross-party investigation!!![/p][/quote]My guess is that the lion's share of development monies has gone to BL1. Driving around these areas and observing all the expensive traffic calming, bollarded off closes and streets, rows and rows of houses done up with magnificent double glazing and new roofs, I could go on........but could voting intentions and post code be related to spend? About ten bob spent on BL7 in the last twenty years. Old Boltonian
  • Score: 14

11:53am Wed 5 Feb 14

steveG says...

Cakelly wrote:
This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years!
Absolutely spot on,can they really have any credibility when it comes to deterring private landowners from doing the same?.
[quote][p][bold]Cakelly[/bold] wrote: This explains why Bolton Council won't repair the bridge on the road leading to Smithills Open Farm! Seems to me they've let the whole estate fall into disrepair for years![/p][/quote]Absolutely spot on,can they really have any credibility when it comes to deterring private landowners from doing the same?. steveG
  • Score: 41

11:56am Wed 5 Feb 14

smithillschap says...

Ultimately, it may benefit us all to have the land owned by the Woodland Trust, but surely we should have the right to comment or object to any of their objectives prior to the deal being done. Will the council be allowing the citizens of Bolton to have their say prior to the sale being completed?
Ultimately, it may benefit us all to have the land owned by the Woodland Trust, but surely we should have the right to comment or object to any of their objectives prior to the deal being done. Will the council be allowing the citizens of Bolton to have their say prior to the sale being completed? smithillschap
  • Score: 45

12:44pm Wed 5 Feb 14

cliff4treasurer says...

You should all read "old Boltonians" comments as he/she hits the nail on the head and no prizes for guessing who one of the ward councillors are for this foreign land.
You should all read "old Boltonians" comments as he/she hits the nail on the head and no prizes for guessing who one of the ward councillors are for this foreign land. cliff4treasurer
  • Score: 2

12:46pm Wed 5 Feb 14

boltonchap says...

smithillschap wrote:
Ultimately, it may benefit us all to have the land owned by the Woodland Trust, but surely we should have the right to comment or object to any of their objectives prior to the deal being done. Will the council be allowing the citizens of Bolton to have their say prior to the sale being completed?
Of course not. And on the rare occasions they do consult they totally ignore the majority response. After all they run this town to suit their own ends which more often than not don't coincide with those of the council taxpayers.
[quote][p][bold]smithillschap[/bold] wrote: Ultimately, it may benefit us all to have the land owned by the Woodland Trust, but surely we should have the right to comment or object to any of their objectives prior to the deal being done. Will the council be allowing the citizens of Bolton to have their say prior to the sale being completed?[/p][/quote]Of course not. And on the rare occasions they do consult they totally ignore the majority response. After all they run this town to suit their own ends which more often than not don't coincide with those of the council taxpayers. boltonchap
  • Score: 30

2:35pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Jim271 says...

Coming soon, MOSS BANK PARK HOUSING ESTATE.
Coming soon, MOSS BANK PARK HOUSING ESTATE. Jim271
  • Score: 28

2:58pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent says...

I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is!
I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is! Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent
  • Score: 16

5:24pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Hollieanne says...

Jim271 wrote:
Its easier to build on Greenbelt land if its owned by a private company rather than the council. They did the same thing with the Valley which is now a cinema complex.
I believe that some of the land at the Valley was privately owned and the council 'compulsorily purchased' it in order to sell it for a large profit. There was a court case (in London) about it and the council were told to pay the owners more than they had offered. I seem to think that the owners had to take the council back to court over the cheque not being honoured as well. This was all reported in the then Bolton Evening News around about the late 90's
[quote][p][bold]Jim271[/bold] wrote: Its easier to build on Greenbelt land if its owned by a private company rather than the council. They did the same thing with the Valley which is now a cinema complex.[/p][/quote]I believe that some of the land at the Valley was privately owned and the council 'compulsorily purchased' it in order to sell it for a large profit. There was a court case (in London) about it and the council were told to pay the owners more than they had offered. I seem to think that the owners had to take the council back to court over the cheque not being honoured as well. This was all reported in the then Bolton Evening News around about the late 90's Hollieanne
  • Score: 3

5:56pm Wed 5 Feb 14

FreedomOfSpeech1945 says...

If Cllr Morris is behind this then yes, there will be houses on the site within a few years. Only one word for this current council, and unfortunately I cannot post it on this site.
If Cllr Morris is behind this then yes, there will be houses on the site within a few years. Only one word for this current council, and unfortunately I cannot post it on this site. FreedomOfSpeech1945
  • Score: 14

6:12pm Wed 5 Feb 14

sallyupsteps says...

Is anyone surprised at this? Wait until they develop the old garden centre. This council are taking us all for a ride. They are all a bunch of shysters. Roll on the revolution.
Is anyone surprised at this? Wait until they develop the old garden centre. This council are taking us all for a ride. They are all a bunch of shysters. Roll on the revolution. sallyupsteps
  • Score: -1

7:15pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Reebok Rhythm says...

Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent wrote:
I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is!
Thanks Anne, I am now enlightened. Sorry! :-)
[quote][p][bold]Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent[/bold] wrote: I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is![/p][/quote]Thanks Anne, I am now enlightened. Sorry! :-) Reebok Rhythm
  • Score: 9

8:09am Thu 6 Feb 14

Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent says...

Reebok Rhythm wrote:
Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent wrote:
I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is!
Thanks Anne, I am now enlightened. Sorry! :-)
Not a problem Reebok Rhythm - I just find it sad that people just jump at the chance to have a pop at the Council without knowing all the facts. Not necessarily you though - you at least checked what I had said :)
[quote][p][bold]Reebok Rhythm[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent[/bold] wrote: I have signed many petitions by the Woodland Trust, they are the ones who stop the Government cutting down ancient forests etc. Of course they won't be building houses. Those who post such comments should do their homework and find out just who the Woodland Trust is![/p][/quote]Thanks Anne, I am now enlightened. Sorry! :-)[/p][/quote]Not a problem Reebok Rhythm - I just find it sad that people just jump at the chance to have a pop at the Council without knowing all the facts. Not necessarily you though - you at least checked what I had said :) Anne Crompton, Community Correspondent
  • Score: 6

1:16pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Donkey Stone says...

FreedomOfSpeech1945 wrote:
If Cllr Morris is behind this then yes, there will be houses on the site within a few years. Only one word for this current council, and unfortunately I cannot post it on this site.
Does it rhyme with top hats?
[quote][p][bold]FreedomOfSpeech1945[/bold] wrote: If Cllr Morris is behind this then yes, there will be houses on the site within a few years. Only one word for this current council, and unfortunately I cannot post it on this site.[/p][/quote]Does it rhyme with top hats? Donkey Stone
  • Score: -2

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