The petition was started three weeks ago, shortly after Chesterfield Borough Council announced that it was placing the grade II* listed building on the market.
The council have maintained the site since 2018, but said that this move would help secure the property’s long term future. Tapton House has been made available for sale on a long leasehold basis for a term of 999 years, at a fixed peppercorn ground rent, or to let on a new lease on commercial terms.
Since then, more than 1600 people have signed a petition set up by the Friends of Tapton House, urging the council to shelve these plans. Di Treece, from the FOTH, said this showed that the council had failed to realise the lack of support for their proposals.
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“The whole idea is that the council have obviously misjudged the feeling of most people in the borough – and we want to bring that to their attention in as many ways as possible.
“Over 1600 people have signed the petition, and we’re all pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, but we want to keep the pressure on. There will still be people in Chesterfield who have no idea there is a petition – it’s a case of spreading the word for us now.”
Di said the FOTH remained concerned by the amount of land that could be sold if the council managed to agree a deal with a buyer.
“Tapton House could have been used by the community for the past few years, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be doing something now, rather than just standing there.
“Looking at the plans on Rightmove, the area that is going to be lumped in with the house is huge. If someone buys it as a home, they’re going to want a private area.
“It has a lot of potential, but the council just seem hellbent on flogging it and getting it off their hands.”
The group will present their petition to the council in less than two weeks – but a debate on Tapton House will not take place until October. There are also plans to hold another picnic outside Tapton House – after a successful event that was attended by residents and councillors opposed to the plans for the property.
Di said: “We thought that a follow-up picnic might be a good idea, so we’ve got that booked for Sunday, July 17 – there was talk of getting an antiques expert to come down too so people can bring down things and get them valued.
A spokesperson for Chesterfield Borough Council said: “On reaching 1,000 signatures the petition organiser or their representative may present their petition at the next available meeting of full Council. This is currently scheduled for Wednesday, July 20.
“The petition organiser or their representative is welcome to present the petition at this meeting, however, the debate on the petition would have to be deferred until Wednesday, October 10 when the full Council next meets. This is because another petition on the ‘Maintenance of Chesterfield Skatepark’ is to be debated at the meeting of full Council on Wednesday, July 20.
“To be clear, the Council has not made the decision to sell Tapton House. We have engaged a property agent to market the property either for sale on a long leasehold basis or for lease on a short-term commercial basis.
“The Council’s Cabinet will look at all material considerations, including matters raised in the petition debate, before making a final decision on the future of Tapton House.”
The petition can be found here.