Public outcry after plans to demolish studio where comedian Frank Sidebottom recorded his music

Plans to bulldoze the community centre where cult comedian Frank Sidebottom recorded his music could come off the rails because of a restrictive covenant.

An application to demolish the Riddings Community Centre in Timperley followed by the construction of five homes on the site has resulted in a 600-name petition amid a tide of local fury against the plan.

Liberal Democrat councillors have ‘called in’ the proposals, which means the colleagues on Trafford council’s planning and development management committee must vote on the issue.

Meanwhile, Timperley Community Action group has written to the council’s chief executive Sara Todd highlighting a ‘legally restrictive covenant’ which could scupper the plan for the site at 121 Park Road.

It said: “Trafford council have removed all community centre usage/activity whilst also withdrawing the previously established maintenance agreement.

“Unless the building’s vulnerability and decay are part of the council’s plan, this treasured none designated heritage asset (NDHA) needs to be accessible again to its community.

“In the meantime, the gates are wide open, unlocked and promoting complete vulnerability. Fence panels bordering 119 have also been removed as it is currently being used as a thoroughfare to the back of the new build properties as a means of access. The car park is a storage solution for building materials.”

The deputy leader of the Lib Dems in Trafford, Coun Jane Brophy said she had asked the council when the Riddings application would come before the planning committee.

She continued: “The answer was no [is] decision expected before the local elections in May. Just like with Altrincham Town Hall [earmarked for ‘disposal’], the council’s plan seems to be to kick the can down the road in the hope that no one will notice.”

The covenant referred to by the campaigners states, relating to the property at 121 Park Road, the property is for: “The use of the said James Bradley and his heirs and assigns forever covenant by the said James Bradley.

“[The covenant is] to keep the said dwellinghouses and all messuages and buildings erected on the said plot of land in good and sufficient repair and condition and of the clear yearly letting value as aforesaid and when necessary restore and rebuild the same so that there should be at all times upon the said plot of land or some part thereof a dwellinghouse or dwellinghouses of the aforesaid description.”

Hollie Glazebrook, from the Timperley Community Action Group, said: “Our interpretation is that the restrictive covenant is applicable forever, with no expiry date.

“This means that the existing building(s) must remain in a sufficient repair and condition and if necessary to rebuild a dwellinghouse(s) of the same or similar description.

“It is our understanding that Trafford council has agreed to sell the plot of land, which is totally legal. However, we also understand it is being sold for demolition and redevelopment and if any of this breaches the details of the covenant which is in place forever, it would be illegal.”

The applicant is PIC (Park Road) Ltd whose directors are Arman Chohan and David Strettle, based at Hale Road in Altrincham.

Last week, the two musicians who owned the recording studio and community centre Frank made his hilarious music have weighed in by describing plans to bulldoze the building as ‘a tragedy’.

Howard Woolley and Dave Cartwright ran the ‘Meek’ recording studio in the basement of the Victorian building. There they recorded Frank making his quirky tunes, including the hilarious ‘Panic on the Streets of Timperley’, along the similar lines to The Smiths’ hit ‘Panic’.

Frank was also known as Chris Sievey, front man of the band The Freshies in the late 1970s and 1980s. They shot to fame with the hit ‘I’m in Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Mega Store Check-out Desk’.

Trafford council has declined to comment.


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