Friday, August 4, 2017

News: SAVE supports plans to restore Firbeck Hall

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SAVE Britain's Heritage is supporting a planning application to restore Firbeck Hall, a late-sixteenth century country house in Rotherham.

Rothbiz reported first in June on fresh plans for the Grade II listed building that has remained unoccupied since it closed as a hospital in 1990. Previous owners and developers have been unable to bring the hall, which was built in 1594 by William Best, back into use.

Owners and developers Ashley Wildsmith and Mike Gibbs took on the dilapidated property in 2015 and brought forward plans for restoration, reuse and redevelopment. A detailed planning application has been submitted to Rotherham Council based around renovation parts of the estate to create apartments and demolishing more modern extensions to be replaced by dwellings.

If approved, the proposals will see the house and stables restored as 24 apartments, securing the future of the two Grade II listed buildings which have been on SAVE's "at risk" register since 2003.

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Mike Fox, deputy director of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said: "We are delighted to see proposals being brought forwards to restore Firbeck Hall, a fine building that has stood languishing and deteriorating for far too long. In recent years the rate of rate of decay has significantly advanced, and it is essential that restoration works are carried out as soon as possible to prevent the total loss of the building. We look forward to seeing the scheme progress, and we will be watching with close interest."

The influential conservation group was key to the successful acquisition by a charitable trust of Wentworth Woodhouse, the Grade I listed mansion, also in Rotherham.

Work on the hall includes replacing the whole roof and the wooden roof and floor timbers. The state of the property was exacerbated by a fire in 2009 and by the theft of roof lead. The stable block, which is also a listed building, is in slightly better condition.

The applicants estimate that the work on the hall and stable block will cost in the region of £5.8m, over £1m more than an expected sale price at the end of restoration. Eight new build dwellings to the rear of the hall, and a unique five bedroom property in the walled garden, will create the financial means of restoring the hall.

On the plans, Fox comments: "Having considered the current proposals in detail, SAVE believes this application is a positive response to the Grade II listed buildings and their surroundings, and that on the whole appropriate care and attention has been given to the value and significance of the listed buildings."

He adds that it is vital that the restoration and conversion of the hall is carried out first, or at the very least, in tandem with the enabling development, as is intended. "All too often the restoration of the heritage asset is treated as a secondary asset," says Fox.

The main hall was later remodelled in 1820 when the property was let to the Peech family of the steelmakers Steel, Peech & Tozer of Templeborough in Rotherham. Further additional alterations occurred in 1935 when the Hall was opened as a country club. At the outbreak of the Second World War the Hall was used by Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the Royal Airforce.

It was bought by the Miners Welfare Commission for use as a rehabilitation centre for injured Miners and was last used as a Rehabilitation Centre for Industrial Injuries.

SAVE Britain's Heritage website

Images: Sophia Property Developments Ltd / Building Link Design


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