The group of local councilors and residents fought to prevent the demolition of Nelson’s late Victorian Cemetery Lodge, a decision which has now been overturned by Pendle Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.
The original decision to demolish the Lodge, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, was made by the Nelson Area Committee.
Marsden ward councilors Neil McGowan and Tommy Cooney, who both opposed the demolition, formed a group, Save Marsden’s Heritage, with residents.
Com. McGowan said: “We have been overwhelmed by the furor over this demolition decision. Before we knew it, we had a new group, a 1,400 signature petition and a banner, lovingly crafted by local children. Residents flocked to the offices of our councilors to protest as well as those of our MP, Andrew Stephenson.
As the Nelson Area Committee went against the officer’s advice, which was to either restore the historic lodge and then rent it out or sell it in its present condition, the decision was deferred. to the Policy and Resources Committee. The committee is made up of councilors from across the borough and is politically balanced.
The committee decided that further consideration should be given to carrying out the upkeep of all listed building elements of Nelson Cemetery to the highest possible standard and that a report on all options should be submitted to a next meeting.
During the meeting, four residents spoke passionately about why the Lodge needed to be saved and how the building was viable whether repaired and leased or sold. A summary was provided by the advisor. McGowan before the floor was opened for debate.
Com. Paul Foxley, who is an architect, explained the significance of the 1894 lodge, believed to have been designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse, for the walls and gates of the Grade II listed cemetery. He explained that the council has a duty to preserve its heritage structures and buildings.
Com. Sarah Cockburn-Price spoke of the regret many feel over the nation’s loss of important historic buildings. She contrasted the pride of Marsden’s Victorian councilors with the short-sighted pragmatism of today’s councillors.
Resident Barbara Moore, who lives opposite the cemetery, said: “We came together with a common goal and we won. It just shows that people power works, so we plan to continue our crusade to highlight and combat threats to Marsden’s treasured legacy.