Campaigners are continuing their fight to save Rock Hall after the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) rejected their application.

Charity Banana Enterprise is behind plans to bring the hall back into use and transform it into a major attraction.

Jayne Allman, the charity’s CEO, told The Bolton News that this was “not unusual”, and many are unsuccessful initially.

She explained that the NLHF Committee were “very impressed with the charity”, and that they “were close to being funded”.

But that they have asked for more information from the council on how it will be delivered.

She said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) committee decided not to fund our Rock Hall Reborn project on this occasion. 

The Bolton News: Historical building remains unoccupiedHistorical building remains unoccupied (Image: Newsquest)

“This is not unusual, and many applications are not successful at first submission.

“The feedback from the NLHF Committee was that they were very impressed with our Charity, the amount of work we had done and the level of community engagement and support etc.

“They also recognised the amazing journey we have been on since we started our Save Rock Hall project in 2020.

“The bid was strong, and we were close to being funded. 

“However, the NLHF Committee have requested more information about how the project will be delivered in partnership with Bolton Council.

“Following a meeting earlier this week, the leader of Bolton Council and relevant Officers restated their wholehearted support for the project, and we continue to work together to meet the requirements of the NLHF.”

Jayne remains hopeful and the charity has been “strongly urged” to reapply for funding by NLHF.

She added: “This is a positive message but again, further work is required over the months ahead and there are no guarantees, given the competitive nature of the process, that we will secure the funding when we reapply.

“We do, however, remain passionate about protecting Rock Hall for future generations and will work to the best of our ability to deliver this project.”

The Bolton News: The Save Rock Hall Landmark challenge. Photo credit to Banana Enterprise NetworkThe Save Rock Hall Landmark challenge. Photo credit to Banana Enterprise Network (Image: Public)

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The council is committed to the future of this valuable heritage asset, and we will continue to work with Banana Enterprise Network on this important project.”

The full-bid would have helped cover £3m to help restore the Grade II-listed building, which used to belong to the Crompton family.

Rock Hall was built in 1807 by the Crompton family of paper-makers.

T B Crompton was a pioneer and developed a unique paper-drying process, which he patented.

In 1982, Rock Hall, now a Grade-II listed building, was opened as a visitor centre, forming the focus of Moses Gate Country Park. It was the headquarters of the Croal Irwell Valley Countryside Warden Service and housed the offices of Bolton’s park rangers until the service was scrapped in 2014.

Under the plans, Rock Hall would be expanded to its original size and include a café, shop, wedding venue, and heritage room and organise outdoor attractions.

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