Campaigners trying to save one of Lancashire’s last underground reservoirs are pleading for a benefactor to buy it as a heritage project.
The old Clayton Water Supply Reservoir on Back Lane, Clayton-le-Woods, dates back to 1883.
Residents living near the former reservoir, on Back Lane in Whittle-le-Woods, have been battling for years to stop it being demolished.
But a bombshell has been dropped by owners United Utilities that it plans to sell the site at auction on February 22.
Now, campaigners hoping to get lottery funding to turn the area into a heritage trail face a race against time to find the £400,000 to save it.
Rosemary Boyd, a member of the Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society, said: “We were told by a former worker of United Utilities that this is the last of its kind in Lancashire, as the rest have been all knocked down or in a state of disrepair.
“The only other place I have heard about one is in Glossop near Manchester so this is an important part of our heritage and history.
“I imagine there is a huge amount of money going to be spent on levelling the area for houses. All we would do is get a grant to open it for children from other areas to see Victorian architecture because it is part of their curriculum.
“We want a benefactor to come forward and help to keep this here.”
Mrs Boyd added: “We have tried to gain access to inside the building, but United Utilities said it was a health and safety issue.”
Last December, it was reported that children from Manor Road Primary School had sent letters to United Utilities calling for the Victorian facility to retained.
Coun Alan Cullens, who represents the Clayton Brook area, said: “I feel for the people trying to save the reservoir and wish them all the best in their bid but the problem is United Utilities have earmarked the site for development and it already has planning approval for houses.”
A United Utilities spokesman said: “We can confirm the site is due to be sold at a Pugh & Co’s auction at Old Trafford, Manchester, on February 22.
“English Heritage has considered the site on numerous occasions, and twice rejected applications for listing.
“The water storage tank at Clayton-le-Woods is a fairly common design and is entirely underground. Ecology and heritage issues were explored thoroughly as part of the planning application, which was approved by Chorley Council.
“The planning application process included public consultation in the summer of 2010, when the intentions to sell the site were clearly outlined.
“Earmarking this brownfield site for residential use is very much in accordance with government planning policy, to ease pressure on green belt land.”
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