A NATIONAL group that campaigns to preserve Victorian and Edwardian buildings has joined the fight to save the Sale Hotel.

The Victorian Society is calling on Trafford Council to designate a new conservation area to include the 130-year-old hotel.

The call comes a month after Messenger exclusively revealed that the owner has notified the council of a proposal to demolish the historic building.

Since then the fight to save the Sale Hotel has earned cross-party support and the backing of a range of groups including Sale Civic Society, Sale and Ashton History Society and the Friends of Walden Gardens.

A Facebook group set up to save the hotel has 1,137 members.

And residents have started a petition demanding protection for the hotel - online details at http://salehotel.blogspot.com Conservation area status would offer the building some protection from demolition.

Currently the owner needs only to apply for permission to build on the site - he does not need permission to pull down the existing building. He has refused to divulge his plans for the site.

A bid by Trafford Council to get the building listed was rejected two weeks ago - town hall chiefs have appealed the decision.

Kristian Kaminski, conservation adviser for the Victorian Society, said: "For such a landmark building to have no statutory protection from demolition is very worrying.

"We have asked for a new conservation area to be created to help prevent the needless destruction of a key part of the town's history, but that may not be enough. To back that up we need people to lobby their councillors to protect the hotel."

Once a building is inside a conservation area any development must be seen to enhance the area, and conservation area consent is needed for demolition.

Councillors representing Priory and Brooklands wards in Sale have also asked planning chiefs to designate the area as a conservation area.

The ward councilliors joined Sale East MP Paul Goggins and other campaigners last week at a meeting to coordinate their efforts to save the hotel.

The Sale Hotel was built in 1878 as part of the Sale Botanical Gardens. The gardens, which included a ballroom, lake, cycle track and grass tennis courts closed in 1896, and the hotel was used a pub for many years until it closed in March this year.

Local historian George Cogswell - who has written a history of the hotel and Sale Botanical gardens - called on residents to continue to back the campaign. He said they should write to their councillors, MP, and, in particular, to Ben Bradshaw MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and to the heritage protection team at English Heritage.

Trafford executive councillor Mike Cornes said: "The council is currently awaiting a review of the decision not to grant the Sale Hotel listed building status which we appealed last week.

"A proposal to grant conservation area status requires full consideration and can be a lengthy process."