NEW plans to turn a historic hall into an upmarket bistro, wedding venue and training centre, with crèche facilities and youth activities, have been revealed.

Bolton Council is currently in talks over a £1.5m renovation of Rock Hall, which has stood derelict in Moses Gate Country Park for six years.

Banana Enterprise Network, the Salford-based charity behind the bid, is developing proposals which include extending the back of the listed building in a “respectful manner” to maximise the potential of the 200-year-old hall.

The charity, which has two trustees who live in Bolton, also wants to offer outdoor activities in the park and is considering ideas such as a petting zoo, pop up markets and summer camps for families.

CEO Jayne Allman said the project would take at least three years to complete.

She said: “We are aware that the council has been considering various options for the hall, including the possibility of putting it up for sale.

“Saving and renovating a historic building is an enormous and lengthy task, which requires a lot of funding.

“We believe the hall needs £500,000 of maintenance work currently to bring it back to its former glory.

“We are trying to help the ‘cash-strapped’ council to save their own building and create a lasting viable community asset.

“The hall is ideally placed to create something special for Farnworth.

“We have asked the council to consider working in partnership with us and other relevant partners, because together, I believe we can save the hall”.

Rock Hall was built in 1807 for the paper-making Crompton family.

Last year, a sign advertising a “unique leasing opportunity” appeared on the gates of the building, but all six expressions of interest it attracted fell through.

Banana Enterprise Network consulted heritage building specialists when it discovered Rock Hall was available to lease in January to develop its own bid.

Its plans are to develop the hall into a “commercially viable” heritage and community centre.

The proposals depend on the council permitting activities in the park, which, together with the expansion of the hall, would generate enough income to preserve the hall for future generations, the charity says.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the proposal that Banana Enterprise is putting together, and we want to give them a reasonable period to complete their submission.

“The council has already received a number of proposals but, so far, none have provided a realistic, sustainable plan for bringing the building back into use.

“Should we be unable to find a suitable proposal, the only option available to the council may be to offer the building for sale.

“This would be subject to member approval and suitably caveated to ensure that Rock Hall is protected and properly maintained.

“In the meantime, sufficient time will be extended to Banana Enterprise to ensure council officers can fully explore their plans.

The charity, which helps to remove barriers to self-employment, has also submitted a bid to nominate Rock Hall as an asset of community value.

If accepted by Bolton Council, this would delay any potential sale for six months to give a community group a chance to buy the building.

The charity is now looking for support from the community to help save Rock Hall.

Mrs Allman said: “We need to demonstrate to the Council and potential funders of the redevelopment project, that our proposals are viable and sustainable.

“We must also show them just how much saving Rock Hall means to the community.”

Banana Enterprise Network wants to establish a project steering group, consisting of people and organisations with relevant skills and knowledge, who can give some of their time to help save Rock Hall for the community.

The charity is also applying to a heritage funding organisation for a grant to enable them to commission a project feasibility study.

Any local groups or individuals interested in helping the charity in its bid to save Rock Hall should contact Jayne Allman at

A Facebook page called Save Rock Hall has been created alongside an online survey which they are asking the community to complete by visiting