A MAJOR renovation scheme is planned to save one of Port Sunlight's most prominent listed buildings.
Plans have been submitted for threatened Hesketh Hall – named after business mogul William Hesketh Lever, the first Lord Leverhulme – to be converted into 13 self-contained flats.
Lionel Bolland, chief executive of Port Sunlight Village Trust – who have submitted the application to Wirral planning authority – said the fabric of the building in Boundary Road, on the Port Sunlight/New Ferry border, was at risk because caretaker occupiers the Royal British Legion did not have the resources to carry out maintenance.
He said: "We have to find a scheme to provide a sustainable future for a listed building.
"In New Ferry an awful lot of people are unhappy about the amount of licensed premises there.
"We had to find a solution which did not involved music and dance and the sale of alcohol.
"A residential conversion does that and allows us to save a grade II listed building under threat.
"The building is in decay. It is in a dreadfully sorry state.
"Its renovation will help restore the building to its original grandeur. It will be a sensitive conversion.
"Our mission has been to try to secure a sustainable future for a listed building in Port Sunlight."
A report which went before Wirral planning authority this week said it was considered that the benefits of bringing Hesketh Hall back into use was of paramount importance.
Planners, who recommended approval for the project, observed: "It is considered that the renovation and re-use of this building is likely to have a positive impact on the adjoining New Ferry town centre and wider area."
They said further: "The proposal will not harm the amenities of nearby residential properties, nor will it harm the integrity of character of the grade II listed building or Port Sunlight Conservation Area."
The report indicated that there would be significant changes to the interior configuration of the building but many of its original features would be encased or retained as part of the conversion.
The planning authority notified residents from 14 adjoining properties about the scheme. No objections were submitted.
Mr Bolland pledged that the village trust would do its utmost to ensure that the charitable activities of the Royal British Legion were not threatened.
He said: "We will do everything we can to find some way to ensure that the charitable arm of the Legion can continue their work."