CAMPAIGNERS battling to save a treasured war memorial are refusing to succumb to defeat – as bulldozers prepare to roll in.

An urgent plea for public support has been made as the demolition of Knutsford and District War Memorial is about to begin.

Crusading Charlotte Peters Rock, who has been fighting to save the precious building, is hoping for an 11th hour reprieve.

Cheshire East Council approved a scheme by McCarthy Stone for 46 retirement homes to be built on the site three years ago.

Bulldozers are about to move in.

“We are still trying to get this demolition stopped,” said Charlotte, who has been campaigning to save the memorial since the cottage hospital closed in 1990.

“This is our war memorial.

Knutsford Guardian: Crusading campaigner Charlotte Peters Rock is urging the local community to take urgent action to try and save Knutsford War MemorialCrusading campaigner Charlotte Peters Rock is urging the local community to take urgent action to try and save Knutsford War Memorial

“We are calling for a section 81 notice to be served. We are hoping for an 11th hour reprieve to get a six-month stop on the demolition.

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“This land was gifted by Cuthbert Leicester Warren of Tabley for a community war memorial in 1922.

Knutsford Guardian: Charlotte Peters Rock is urging residents to support her campaign to save the war memorialCharlotte Peters Rock is urging residents to support her campaign to save the war memorial

“This community raised money to build on the site “This is our communal property, a vital part of our local history.”

A McCarthy Stone spokesman said: “McCarthy Stone purchased the site from the Red Cross, which was for sale by tender on the open market, and following full legal due diligence and having obtained a planning consent for the development of a new retirement living scheme.

Knutsford Guardian: Demolition equipment is arriving on siteDemolition equipment is arriving on site

“The scheme recognises the history of the site in its design and retains a public memorial garden at the front of the development which will contain appropriate memorial artefacts from the building.

“The apartments will be available for occupation towards the end of 2023.”

Charlotte has put posters around the site and handed out thousands of leaflets.

“A security guard said he had been employed to stop me damaging the property,” said Charlotte.

“How do they think at my age, I’ll be 77 at the end of the year, could I ‘leg it’ over a three-metre high fence to damage a war memorial I have spent more than a decade trying to save from predators.”

Knutsford Guardian: The site in Northwich Road has been fenced off ready for demolitionThe site in Northwich Road has been fenced off ready for demolition

After lobbying countless officials, civic leaders, MPs and police chiefs, she is urging members of the public for support.

“If you value this war memorial, act now," she said."It might make the difference between losing and keeping it.”

Knutsford Town Council say they made every effort to try and save the memorial.

Town mayor, Cllr Mike Houghton, said: ”We very much sympathise with those residents who feel short-changed by this decision but hope they can appreciate the town council explored every avenue to try and bring a satisfactory solution to the people of the town.

“Sadly, it does appear that our work, and the efforts of a great many other people, have not managed to deliver this.

Knutsford Guardian: Campaigners are hoping for an 11th hour reprieveCampaigners are hoping for an 11th hour reprieve

“Whilst we believe there remains a strong moral case that the hospital belongs to the community, which paid for it, there does not appear to be a legal basis for this which could have prevented the sale of the building.

“Between 2016-2018 the town council sought to prevent the sale through engagement with the British Red Cross, NHS and Crown Estate.

“We sought statutory protection of the building as an asset of community value and to have it listed as a building of special architectural/historic significance – both applications were rejected.

“Furthermore, we objected to the planning proposals which were, ultimately, approved by Cheshire East Council in 2018.

“From our investigations we are confident the British Red Cross owned the freehold of the building and had the lawful right to sell it to McCarthy Stone.

“Unfortunately, the designation as a war memorial affords the building no additional legal protection.

“On a positive note, we have been able to achieve the protection of the Haron Baronian statue, which now forms part of a new central town war memorial, relocation of the name boards, and other artefacts from within the building, and the proposed creation of a new memorial garden within the grounds of the redeveloped site.”

For more details on the council's attempt to save the site visit