4. Paragraph 7.7 of the Inspector's report - summarising the English Heritage case at the 1998 public inquiry - states that: "As the building is … [not] currently in a conservation area, grants are not available from English Heritage and they are not able to acquire the structure. … In relation to grants which more generally support urban regeneration, it is accepted that Sandown Hall is not in an area where grant schemes are regularly used to repair historic buildings". Many years ago now, the Wavertree Society proposed that the Wavertree Village Conservation Area be extended to include Sandown Hall; and, indeed, this was agreed in principle by the City Council in 1996 during the preparation of the Deposit Draft Unitary Development Plan. We also asked that the boundary of what became the Parks Partnership Area be drawn along Mill Lane and Church Road (rather than along Rathbone Road and Wellington Road) so as to allow English Partnerships and other bodies to assist the regeneration of the Wavertree Village Conservation Area. May we have your assurance that the financial implications of such 'lines on a map' - in terms of the City Council's ability to attract funding from external sources - will be more fully considered in future?
We are extremely disappointed by the Secretary of State's decision, not least because members of the Wavertree Society became aware of the owners' lack of commitment to Sandown Hall at a very early stage, and have voluntarily invested large quantities of time and money in campaigning to save it since the original listed building consent application was submitted in 1994. On 8th November 1994 I wrote to the Council's then Head of Planning & Transportation as follows (point 7 in the Society's letter of objection): "Mr Downey threatens to withdraw the 24-hour security cover which he has paid for since 1990, and claims that this will 'inevitably' result in the building's destruction as a result of vandalism. We trust that he will be left in no doubt as to his obligations as the owner of a Listed Building - and the possible legal penalties for deliberate neglect - and will be persuaded that such abandonment of the property would be neither acceptable nor cost-effective". May we have your assurance that such clear warnings will not go unheeded in future?
Finally, we draw your attention to the claims made by the owners in 1996 that Sandown Hall is dangerously contaminated with asbestos. In the interests of local residents' safety, may we please have your assurance that the Council will require the owners to have the asbestos removed by experts prior to any demolition work taking place?