Monday, November 23, 2015

News: Wentworth Woodhouse deal falls through

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A multimillion pound deal to purchase Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham has fallen through according to reports in a national newspaper.

Agents, Savills confirmed earlier this month that terms had been agreed for the largest privately-owned house in Europe with the Lake House Group, an investment company which has its headquarters in Hong Kong. Exchange and completion were due to take place.

The historic Grade I listed mansion house went on the market earlier this year with an asking price of in excess of £8m after the Newbold family confirmed that they had decided to sell at the end of 2014.

It had been hoped that a charitable trust would acquire the property. By agreement with the Newbold family, who bought the house for a reported £2m, the newly formed Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) began fundraising last year and raised pledges of £3.4m and prepared detailed plans for the future of the property. The trust aimed to acquire the property if it could raise £7m. A further £42m needs to be spent on the fabric of the house over the next twelve to fifteen years to meet the backlog of repairs and subsidence damage.

Having agreed the target purchase figure with the Newbold family, a final offer was submitted by the WWPT, but it was turned down by Savills in favour of the Lake House Group's offer.

The Times is reporting that the Lake House Group has backed out of the deal due to the levels of subsidence at the property.

The lengthy multimillion pound legal battle between the owners of Wentworth Woodhouse and the Coal Authority should come to a head in 2016. The Court of Appeal unanimously decided to dismiss the Coal Authority's case that the claim for compensation for extensive subsidence damage by the owners, the Newbold family, should be rejected.

The claim for damages against the Coal Authority, for at least £100m, is in respect of the damage caused by deep and open cast mining and is being disputed.

In 2014 the judge laid out a strict timetable for both sides to organise engineering reports regarding the movement of the property. The reports are to determine if the movement is due to mining subsidence.

The timetable involves serving reports detailing damage to Wentworth Woodhouse, the response to those reports by the Coal Authority and then the estimate by both sides of the expected length of the trial which will consider the issues in April 2016.

The conclusion of the trial will determine the level of compensation and enable positive plans and repair work to commence.

The trust's plans identified £42m of structural repairs that needed to be carried out on the property and had taken into account the complex claim for subsidence damage from the Coal Authority.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Tom Austen / Savills

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