Tuesday, June 19, 2018

News: Options outlined for Wentworth Woodhouse

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A dedicated team of experts are gathering their thoughts on how Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham can accommodate a new mix of uses that will give the Grade I listed mansion a sustainable future.

The masterplanning has been described as a "huge and relentless task" but now options are being narrowed down before a planning application can be submitted in the near future.

A series of consultation events have highlighted the work undertaken to assess the buildings and their suitably for reuse.

Julie Kenny, chair of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT), which owns the house, said: "It's obvious that the house will never have just one single use, like a family living there, again. It's not sustainable. Wentworth is a house for the people and we are developing a sustainable model for its future."

Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT, added: "We've visited 18 other sites, heritage sites and stately homes, including Chatsworth, to learn about mixed use redevelopment. We've been talking to community stakeholders and have had lots of positive feedback from our initial community surveys.

"We had 900 responses to the survey which shows that people are keen for more events, don't want the redevelopment to over-commercialise the site and want Wentworth Woodhouse accessible to all - not elitist."

McLeod explained the things being considered throughout the planning process - the economic viability of the new uses, the planning restrictions of the site, how to compliment what already exists in the area and how to ensure that sufficient infrastructure is in place.

The CEO added: "No decision has been made yet. We are just setting out options to look at. Public consultation is taking place now and further work will need to take place on things like the visitor experience and traffic impacts when decisions have been made."

Experts at heritage consultants Tricolor and conservation design architects at Purcell have been drafted in to come up with the various options in the masterplan.

Chris Cotton, a partner at Purcell Architects and a specialist in conservation and design, was on hand at the consultation event to discuss the various uses, such as public tours, events, weddings, holiday lets, restaurants, cafes, residential and commercial uses, and how they can be accommodated in the various parts of the site.

The East Front of the house measures 615 feet and its courts and buildings cover three acres or more of ground. The impressive stable block, provided the 84 racehorses owned by the Second Marquess of Rockingham with their own palatial surroundings.

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Cotton's own mammoth task of recording all of the spaces on the site totaled over 400.

For the main house, Cotton explained: "The building is actually two houses, the west front of the house in the baroque style and the east front, in the later palladian style. In the central core of the house there is little capacity for change. Here there are the high status rooms such as the marble saloon, pillared hall and Whistlejacket room. This would remain the focus for the public tours. Most stately homes are lucky to have ten to 15 high status rooms - Wentworth Woodhouse has 25.

"There are no furnishings but the empty spaces are grand, with compelling architecture. Unlike a normal National Trust property there is the potential for a fresh new use with exhibits, educational and cultural displays to tell the story of all the people that have lived here.

"It was a home for all of the community and we want to bring that back."

A couple of options present themselves for the south wing of the house including long term residential flats or commercial business units. The state rooms facing the east front could be converted into a guest house for larger parties or be opened to the public. Space for the trust for administrative and storage purposes would also be required.

The north range was the service wing and was significantly altered during the building's time as Lady Mabel's college when it housed a large refectory. Cotton believes that this creates a greater capacity for change, giving the trust an opportunity to be more forward in its approach. Here a large restaurant and cafe with access from the parkland could be situated.

There are also a number of options on the table for the largest 18th Century stable block ever built which contains a large quadrangle and riding school plus later additions from the college.

Cotton explained: "We are looking at introducing new features and improving accessibility. For example, the riding school is very large, a double sized gym that can't be subdivided. This could be used by the community for events, weddings and conferences. A wedding venue here could seat up to 400."

If the focus for the stable block was on weddings, overnight guest accommodation could also be created.

Other options for the stables include using it solely for business use including new starter units, commercial space and conference space. Given its proximity to the main entrance, the block could also be used as a visitor centre with a cafe and artisan shops. Holiday lets are also an option.

The Camellia House, a 19th century glazed conservatory within the grounds could also be brought back to life to enhance to landscape and garden experience, or be used for events.

Key to the sustainability is the need to accommodate visitors and their cars. The planners have been looking at various options to do this so that shiny new vehicles can't be seen, especially not in front of the main house.

Spaces for 500 cars are in development and options include creating concealed parking within woodland areas, demolishing the 1970's college halls of residence and replacing them with car parking, and using the drying ground which is behind an eight foot high wall close to the house.

It is estimated the overall restoration bill could easily reach £200m and fundraising is underway. Some options lend themselves to being created in the early phases of development, enabling the trust to boost income in the short term.

The options for the masterplan are currently on display at the house and are set to be made available online.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Wentworth Woodhouse / Savills / Historic England

1 comments:

Anonymous,  June 21, 2018 at 6:20 AM  

Bmx competitions on the grounds such a cool venue, for street park and dirt just like boardmasters

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