Tuesday, November 22, 2016

News: Habershon House heading to market

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Offers are being invited for Habershon House, the property in Filey owned by Rotherham Council which holds fond memories for the thousands of local people that have been taken on trips to the seaside as school children for over 100 years.

The future of the 13 bedroom residential field study centre at Primrose Valley was placed under review during the Council's budget setting for 2016/17, with the authority under pressure to find savings of £21m as part of a 3-year forecast that sets out a total funding gap of £48m.

Habershon House provides a range of outdoor and indoor educational activities. The centre provides accommodation and full board or a self-catering option for school or youth groups of up to 42 children and young people, as well as private family hire.

The projected income of the centre is not meeting the full cost of providing the facility (running costs are around £95,000 a year) and the review came up with three options - closure and a sale of the property, additional investment and re-launch, or an asset transfer to a voluntary organisation or consortia of partners.

A survey showed that whilst a small number of Rotherham primary schools had residential visits to Habershon House as a fixed part of the school calendar, the majority opted for other centres that offered a range of activities delivered by qualified staff and that could accommodate groups of up to 90 pupils.

The Council's cabinet met in July and approved the recommended option of an asset transfer so that non-council operators could continue to deliver activity that benefits the residents of Rotherham.

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Members heard that the services provided by Habershon House were non-statutory and were not targeted to vulnerable groups. Minutes show that: "Officers had reached the view that continuing to operate Habershon House Residential and Field Centre was not the most cost effective way of supporting the most vulnerable young people and their families and improving outcomes. It was considered that the private sector was better able to provide residential outdoor education facilities opportunities more affordably and to a higher standard than the Council."

The decision placed a time limit on an agreement being reached by November 30 2016, following which the house would be sold on the open market. It added that the earliest date Habershon could be closed was estimated to be November 18 2016.

Habershon House is now listed on property website, Rightmove with offers invited at any time for the freehold with vacant possession.

No guide price is given but an initial review of Habershon House was conducted by the Council in April 2016 and estimated a valuation of the property at between £150,000 and £175,000. This figure is based on the number of existing covenants attached to the usage of the building and land. For example, the covenants prevent the property from being used for trade or business, to sell alcohol or cause a nuisance.

The sale will also impact on staff employed in the centre and may lead to a requirement for redundancy or redeployment.

The house was opened in 1904 as The Filey Children's Convalescent Home. It built on the movement of providing seaside trips for the children of Rotherham to benefit their health, paid for by people of Rotherham.

A decision was taken in 1902 to erect a "plain and unornamented structure" accommodating 22 beds, with a large playroom for about £1,000 and fundraising began. The total cost of the building was £2,050.00 and with the exemption of £150.00, the whole of this sum was raised by voluntary subscriptions and fund raising of the people of Rotherham.

The building was passed over to the war effort between 1939-1945 and continued to be used as a convalescent home when handed back to the committee. In 1974 it was given over on trust to Rotherham Council for the Education of the Borough's Children.

Habershon House website

Images: RMBC


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