Thursday, July 28, 2022

News: 600 capacity conference and events space planned at Wentworth Woodhouse


Fresh sets of plans have been submitted that cover further phases of regeneration at Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham.

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust rescued the Grade I listed architectural jewel from decline in 2017.

Rothbiz reported last year on plans for Wentworth's next phases in a programme of mixed-use regeneration, described as the most exciting and challenging heritage project of a generation, that will take up to two decades to deliver and will cost over £130m.

A proposed £5.1m regeneration project is set to provide jobs and training for the hospitality sector at the historic site. Funding has been secured from the Government's Levelling Up Fund.

With plans recently approved for to convert part of the magnificent stables for use as a production kitchen and another part for a 120 cover café catering for visitors, now a new application has been submitted for other parts of the stables.

The new application, from Donald Insall Architects, includes the conversion of the stable's south range, the riding school and "Ostler’s House."

If approved, the plans will not only secure the repair and restoration of the Grade I and II buildings currently in very poor condition with major risk of further decay, but enable the charitable trust to generate more income.

Wentworth Woodhouse’s huge Stable Block, positioned on the driveway to the Mansion, was created for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham by architect John Carr of York. When completed in 1782 it was the largest private stables in the country, and remained so until the late 1900s. It boasted stables for 84 hunting, riding, and carriage horses.

The Riding School is set to be converted into a large conference and events space capable of holding 600+ wedding guests, with a new mezzanine providing storage and WCs at ground floor and a bar at mezzanine level.

Inside the Grade 1 listed building, redundant interventions from when it was used as a gymnasium by Lady Mabel College will be removed from the walls. Heritage experts have also worked out how to install mechanical cooling in the historic riding school.

On the outside, a significant improvement to the stables complex will be the removal of the infill college changing rooms and covered sports court from the Riding School courtyard. Plans explain that: "This will reveal the original elevations of the South Range and Riding School which will be repaired and conserved. Views out to the garden and potentially to the Mansion will be opened up through the Riding School southern courtyard wall. In order to provide visitors and staff with protection from the weather a contemporary and fully reversible glazed open walkway is proposed to the north and west sides of the courtyard. This has been carefully developed with the client and Historic England."

Other elements of the proposals include significant internal alterations to create a large commercial kitchen in the west end of the south range and the south end of the west range.

Linked to the new events spaces, the designs for restoring Ostler's House is to use it for overnight accommodation set out in a hotel room configuration. The large Grade II listed building dates from c.1780 but the internal fabric has been completely lost from this building (with the exception of the central staircase) as a result of college changes and deterioration of the fabric during its period of redundancy.

Mews Court, the smallest and most intimate of the four courtyards at the stables, is to be restored to be the visitor’s first impression of the estate after leaving their cars in the new car park (Other plans will enable a new entrance and car park created by demolishing the former swimming pool). Visitors will then be directed into the vast and impressive main stables courtyard for the ‘architectural reveal’.

The cottage at Mews Court (which has been considerably remodelled) will be respected and used as a shop.

The plans add: "The original front door to Mews Cottage will be reinstated and the building sensitively adapted into a shop at ground floor with office space above and a connection through to the adjacent room to the north where an existing open split level provides an excellent visitor exit route to the proposed car park."

Away from the stable block, a separate set of plans have been submitted for listed building consent to repair the fountain and pool south of the Camellia House which is being brought back into use as a cafe and evening events space.

The plans conclude: "The interventions proposed have been subject to detailed design development to ensure that they remove the harmful interventions dating to the college use and that they are limited to those considered necessary to ensure the future sustainable public use of the buildings, to enable visitor access into the restored historic spaces and to give them a new vital purpose ensuring their special interest is preserved, accessed and understood.

"The conclusion of this report therefore is that the proposals will lead to major and wholly positive benefits, centred on securing a continued, viable use for these buildings, their removal from the ‘At Risk’ register and forming an integral role in the future of the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate as a visitor attraction.

"The proposed use of the Stables, Riding School, Ostler’s House, Mews Court and Mews Cottage and their role in the wider scheme to turn Wentworth Woodhouse into a visitor attraction would have a wholly positive impact on economic development and the creation of jobs with the borough."

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Donald Insall Architects


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