CONTROVERSIAL plans to sell to a piece of Cheshire West's river heritage to developers have taken yet another turn.

Navigation Yard, former site of boat building firm Yarwoods in Northwich, was first put up for sale by auction by owners, the Canal and River Trust (C&RT), on real estate website Rightmove in February this year.

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.  

On May 10, a spokesman for C&RT confirmed it had received enquiries from several potential buyers, adding: “We have received expressions of interest from a number of parties which we are currently reviewing, ahead of being able to comment further in due course.”

Chester and District Standard: The site contains a number of historically significant grade-II listed buildingsThe site contains a number of historically significant grade-II listed buildings (Image: Avison Young)

However, a new listing on property website Rightmove, inviting ‘full and final bids’ by Thursday, November 17, confirms the site went unsold at previous auctions.

The proposed sale has drawn a lot of criticism from campaign groups who argue Navigation Yard is a unique piece of Northwich’s industrial heritage, and they would like to see it developed as a tourist attraction, doing justice to its role in the town’s history.

C&RT say the sale is necessary to raise funds to maintain 2,000 miles of inland waterways, and they're seeking a developer who'll be sensitive to the site’s historical role in Northwich’s industrial heritage.

John Tackley, president of the River Weaver Navigation Society, one of the groups campaigning against the sale, said: “This would be a tremendous opportunity to transform Northwich into a proper tourist town.

“Navigation Yard is such an important site for the whole of the county, as so many decisions were taken in that building. It created the salt industry, which in turn, created the port of Liverpool.

“It’s unbelievable C&RT are trying to offer it ordinary developers, who obviously don’t have those interests at heart.

“There are a number of organisations in and around Northwich who’d like to have some part in its sensitive development, but we haven’t been given the opportunity.

“We didn’t even know the place was up for sale back in February until it was near the closing date."

John believes the site is probably not an attractive proposition for commercial property developers. 

He added: “Part of it is grade II-listed ,which means a developer is unlikely to make much money out if it, if any at all.

“I believe hotel organisations have had a look at it, but the rooms are of such disparate sizes, and at different levels, it doesn’t lend itself well to that activity.   

“It would be wonderful if organisations like the Heritage Society and the River Weaver Navigation Society could be given an opportunity to consider what we could do with it to make it a core for Northwich tourism.”