Thursday, October 11, 2018

News: Trust to unveil Wentworth Woodhouse plans at Downing Street

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Plans to transform Wentworth Woodhouse into a world-class visitor attraction and put Rotherham on the map are to be unveiled at Downing Street.

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m in 2017. It is now launching its masterplan at a reception being hosted at 11 Downing Street with the permission of Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, next week.

Rothbiz reported in June on some of the options for how Wentworth Woodhouse can accommodate a new mix of uses that will give the Grade I listed mansion a sustainable future.

The document is the result of a year spent gathering and examining workable schemes, advice from heritage experts and the opinions of 1,500 members of the public who took part in the consultation process.

Historic England is currently overseeing spending of £7.6m Government grant funding for emergency repairs through its repair grants for heritage at risk but the owners estimate that it will need up to £200m to restore the house to its former glory.

When WWPT took on the site in March 2017 it found the mansion, stables, riding school, camelia house and 83 acres in a critical state of decay - buildings riddled with asbestos, collapsed drains, endemic dry rot, leaking roofs, rotting timbers and deteriorating stonework.

The complex restoration work will become an attraction in itself. Uniquely, visitors will be able to witness work as it takes place and talk to restoration teams on hard-hat and Hi-Viz tours.

The house will also boast an artisan construction school to up-skill local people in heritage and restoration construction and lead to the creation of its own skilled workforce.

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Julie Kenny CBE, chair of WWPT (pictured, right), said: "The Chancellor's invitation for us to unveil our plans is testament to the huge national significance of what is arguably Britain's greatest restoration project for a generation, and its solid cross-party support.

"The Masterplan is the start of an exciting journey, a catalyst for change for the people whose lives the trust touches and the communities we serve. For three centuries the house was the hub of social and economic life across South Yorkshire and we intend to make it so once again."

Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT (pictured, left), added: "Our masterplan will not only restore a national asset, it will regenerate a community. As this once great house rises again, it will be both an economic driver and a world-class tourism attraction. It will improve the lives of people in Rotherham, one of the most socially-deprived areas of the UK, by providing training in construction, catering and customer services and creating jobs.

"It's an exciting time. Now we have a clear and concise vision, work can begin to make things happen. The Masterplan will underpin all our funding applications and our bid to find support from the private sector across the world."

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

Options have been developed for various uses, such as public tours, events, weddings, holiday lets, restaurants, cafes, residential and commercial uses, and shown how they can be accommodated in the various parts of the site.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Wentworth Woodhouse / Furniss & Son

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