CALLS have been made for a charity to rethink its plans to sell off historically important riverside buildings in Northwich.

The Canal and River Trust (C&RT) has put Navigation Yard, near Northwich town centre, up for sale to developers in order to raise funds to help maintain its 2,000 miles of inland waterways.

In a letter addressed to C&RT chief executive Richard Parry, chairman David Orr, and Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Louise Gittins, a group concerned over the plans suggested other uses for the site that would better serve its status as an important historical asset.

Signatories to the letter include Northwich town and CWAC councillors and Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury as well as representatives of historic and waterway interest groups.

Several structures on the site are deemed important historical assets, including the grade II listed Area Office, Navigation House, Clock Tower, and the Scotch Derrick Crane.  

In the letter, the group states: "We feel this historic site could be developed in a different way that is more beneficial to the town, the River Weaver, and the local community in the long term.

Northwich Guardian: The Clock Tower is one of four Grade II-listed structures on the site (Google) The Clock Tower is one of four Grade II-listed structures on the site (Google) (Image: Google)

"The site could and should be used to act as a catalyst for regeneration of the local area by helping to promote and publicise Cheshire’s greatest untapped tourist asset, the River Weaver.

"As Northwich is about to lose the last vestiges of Pimlott’s shipyard and related shipyard buildings to housing, Navigation Yard will be the last place with buildings of significance to Northwich’s rich river history.”

A signatory to the letter, Inland Waterways Association Chester and Merseyside chairman, Jim Forkin, said: "We are looking at forestalling the sale, and if it does go through, to keep it as an actual waterside attraction, rather than just ripping it down and selling it off for housing and apartments, as usual."

The letter suggests potential uses for the site such as hosting learning spaces, engineering and heritage skills training, public exhibitions, and meeting spaces as well as offering SME’s attractive small units of office space.

A spokesman for the C&RT said: "The Canal & River Trust has put up for sale its land and buildings at Navigation Road in Northwich.

"The former Grade II listed office buildings on site are all vacant, and the operational depot on site will be relocated in the near future.

"The sale of the former office and yard will generate much needed capital that will be reinvested into waterway maintenance programmes across our 2,000-mile network.

"If possible, we will seek a purchaser that has a proven track record in delivering high-quality development schemes that are sympathtic to the heritage importance of the various Grade II listed buildings on the site."