REPORT TO PICKMERE PARISH COUNCIL
7th June 2022
AGENDA ITEM 9.6 KNUTSFORD AND DISTRICT WAR MEMORIAL
1.1 A communication has been received from a resident of Knutsford and district in respect of the apparently impending loss of the Knutsford and District War Memorial hospital.
1.2 It is understood that a development company has agreed to purchase what was the ‘War Memorial Hospital’ at Knutsford for development purposes. Since its construction following WW1, and its subsequent operation, the building was sold eventually to the British Red Cross, and this organisation is now the potential vendor of the building to the developer.
1.3 The organiser of this protest is seeking to prevent its sale and potential demolition because of the role of the building as a war memorial and is seeking the support of parish councils as well as Knutsford Town Council in order to oppose such loss. There has been significant correspondence between the organiser and the Clerk of Knutsford Town Council about the issue, and the Knutsford Clerk has most recently responded as follows, this being copied to your Council:
I have spoken with [contact at] McCarthy and Stone and he has confirmed the sale completed on Friday.
Our understanding following previous investigations is that the War Memorial Cottage Hospital was built by public subscription, it was conveyed to the trustees of the hospital in 1937. The NHS Act 1946 saw the hospital vested in the Secretary of State for Health by statute as all voluntary and local authority hospitals were acquired for the new National Health Service. In 1994 the Secretary of State for Health lawfully conveyed the building to the British Red Cross. Whilst at the time the Town Council was advised it would be a lease, a freehold sale was completed. Whilst the form of transfer was unusual, there was lawful consideration as is reflected by the Land Registry confirming title. Until Friday, the British Red Cross were the lawful owners of the property. We have not seen any legal opinion or argument that there was an inability for the Secretary of State for Health to acquire the building in 1948; whilst the Act stated other uses must not be prejudiced in the acquisition that did not negate any acquisition. The hospital’s designation as a war memorial does not afford it any additional legal protection. It was concluded that whilst there remains a strong moral case that the hospital belongs to the community which paid for it there does not appear to be a legal basis for this which could prevent the sale of the building.
The Town Council investigated a variety of avenues for the protection of the building between 2016 and 2018, all of which were unsuccessful. Until the contrary is proven, it is our understanding that McCarthy and Stone is the lawful owner of the building and by virtue of the planning permission granted in 2019 has lawful permission and authority to demolish the building.
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any legal route to preventing the redevelopment of the site.
1.4 It is understood that the organiser of the objection to the demolition of this building has attended various parish council meetings in the area to seek support, and it is possible that she may attend your Council meeting on 7 June in order to speak, although it is now understood from the comment above that the sale has already been completed.
2.1 That members note the report.
Clerk to the Parish Council