Monday, February 27, 2012

News: Judge backs Wentworth Woodhouse owners in Coal Authority dispute


A judge has sided with the owners of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham in the first legal battle with the Coal Authority over a claim for damages.

Clifford Newbold and his sons, the owners of Wentworth Woodhouse since 1999, have been examining options for the long-term sustainable uses for the Grade 1 Listed building in order to ensure the heritage is preserved and enjoyed for future generations, as well as using the opportunity to help generate employment.

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

The Coal Authority attempted to stop the claim in the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal last month, arguing that the two damage notices served by the owners were invalid.

The contention centred on technicalities on how the form was completed, largely due to it being completed by one of the Newbold brothers, Paul. The authority claimed that he was not the land owner as the property was co-owned by the family and that he did not have the authority to act on behalf of his family.

The judge, Mr George Bartlett QC ruled in favour of the Newbold family, concluding that "the Authority's contention that the notices were invalid must fail."

He added: "Their case was without merit....They instructed consultants to advise them, and over the two-year period their officers, and on one occasion their chief executive, discussed the claim with the claimants and their advisers.

"They clearly did not consider that either notice was so deficient in its content as to disable them from considering the claims or that the claims did not merit serious consideration."

The case is now expected to go to a full hearing.

Giles Newbold said: "We are pleased that we are able to take our case further so that we can secure the regeneration and long term future of this magnificent part of the nation's heritage."

Plans were unveiled last year for the mansion house to create a combination of publicly accessible restored museum to the central and grandest rooms, as well as a 70 suite luxury hotel and spa to the remainder. The proposal would revive the use of the house in such a way that minimises alteration and change to the historic building, making best use of the magnificent spaces that can be open to and enjoyed by the public.

Lead consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton have been working on the plans and an experienced technical team is in place including architects, cost consultants and property specialists to bring the project forward. It was hoped that it would begin this year and aspects to be completed in 2015.

An outline business plan for the business premises was submitted in a bid to secure funding from the European Regional Development Fund and other sources of funding were being examined, such as the Regional Growth Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Images: Johnson Cameraface on flickr, used under Creative Commons license


Mags Fedorenko,  July 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM  

The coal board savaged the estate for no good reason. They should be made to pay dearly for what could only be classed as a criminal act of vandalism to this wonderful estate.

Anonymous,  August 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM  

I agree. It is a true hidden gem. The real " Black Diamond" VANDALISM at it's worst. It could rejuvenate the area & become the Chatsworth of South Yorkshire! The miners themselves refused to do the opencast mining which went to within 16 ft of the house under the bedrock that it's foundations where built on. Contractors had to be brought in to blow up the 100ft deep bedrock to obtain very poor quality surface coal.

Margaret & Cliff,  August 29, 2012 at 10:35 AM  

My husband and I totally agree with the above comments. We live within 15 minutes drive of the House and have long held the view that someone should pay for the damage. We can remember the open cast mining happening, it was horrendous. We hope the owners keep going and get the money owed by the Coal Board.

Anonymous,  April 2, 2013 at 1:44 PM  

How deluded can you possibly get, the Fitzwilliams OWNED the mines that did the damage, they were happy to take the royalties paid to them, the coal authorities are right to defend the taxpayer on this issue, the new owners must have known that there were structural problems as this has been public knowledge for years and long before Manny came to the back door,thats why the last Earl burned the papers belonging to the house records before he left so as to leave no evidence of the remedial works that were attempted pre war and earlier, this is nothing but a scam to be bailed out by the taxpayer by this family in order to try and live a life of luxury akin to the Duke of Devonshire, ABSOLUTELY APPALLING BEHAVIOUR!

Anonymous,  May 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM  

The mines were nationalised in 1947 it's the deep mining of the 80s that has caused the damage. The papers burnt were rent receipts etc that were years and years old and no longer needed not family papers hiding secrets.Ask the local who worked there and help burn them! They ruined the landscape they should be made to pay. Good luck to the family with the case and returning Wentworth Woodhouse to its former glory!

Anonymous,  May 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM  

Sorry but much as I love the building and the beautiful countryside surrounding it , the Fitzwilliams lived lives of luxury paid for in blood , sweat and tears by my late Grandad and his contemporaries. There ia absolutely NO WAY ON EARTH that the taxpayer should be madeto pay for the extensive and costly refurb that is needed. Why not ask the Queen and the other royal parasites ?

ausResearcher June 21, 2013 at 3:59 PM  

I am an aussie. My grandfather spent his entire career in Fitzwilliam mines; either iron or coal. The Earls Fitzwilliam provided coal miners with worker houses "superior in size and arrangement, and in convenience attached" (Commissioner Seymour Tremenheere); access to a bank and worker loans; medical benefits; and sponsored schools.

The 1842 Children's Commission of Inquiry found no women and children in Earl Fitwilliam's "Parkgate Deep Pit", in Rawmarsh; which was rare for the time.

I also have an interest in Wentworth Woodhouse because in 1817 to 1820 my 4 x great grandfather had two children in Cortwoth, opposite Wentworth Forge, and 560 metres from Wentworth Woodhouse. At least two houses were owned by the estate (Paul Nunn, 1985); and there was a footman, park keeper, and groomsman in the hamlet (Parish birth records). A path led from the hamlet houses to the "House" (old map).

The Coal Authority acted in a reckless and revengeful manner in mining so close to a house of local and national significance. A Watson Wentworth Earl had been a prime minister twice and concluded the peace agreement which allowed the US independence. The gardens on the site were designed by a great landscape designer of the 18th century. The Earls provided enterprise, capital and finesse to create employment for the working class in an area needing employment (Paul Nunn, 1985).

These factors should have been enough to deter a project with miserable benefits. There should be some redress.

I wish the Newbold family well.

Does anyone know the date of origin of the Wentworth Forge?

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