Plans to restore a grade II listed hall ravaged by a fire have been recommended for approval by planning officers.
Overstone Hall has been in disrepair ever since the 2001 blaze, but a change in owners in December 2015 has helped bring forward plans to redevelop the hall. Now those plans have been formally submitted.
Barry Howard Homes is proposing to restore the hall to its former glory - but the 16 residential units that will be built would not be open to members of the public.
It will form one of two phases of an overall development plan for the site, with the developers intending to build 60 homes in the grounds to enable the restoration, which is estimated to cost £20million.
The plans have provoked strong responses both in favour and against the application.
Historic England has raised concerns that the enabling development proposed in the parkland ‘may not actually achieve much in terms of progressing restoration of the Hall, but will cause harm to its setting’.
Overstone Parish Council has ‘strongly objected’ to both the restoration and enabling applications, saying: “Barry Howard Homes (BHH) has no transparent ‘Exit Plan’ to complete the restoration of the hall and no secured funds or secured any land interests to fully fund the cost of renovation.
“BHH has no submitted plan to prove he ever will have in the future. The villagers are not prepared to put up with a partial renovation over many years, with the site covered in tarpaulin and scaffolding.”
County councillor Judy Shepherd has given her backing to the parish council, saying: “The relationship that already exists between Overstone Park and Overstone village is at present very finely balanced. The extra traffic that would be generated from an enabling development scheme would be overbearing and burdensome upon the whole locality.”
She adds that the plans would see Overstone Hall ‘no longer being worthy of a Grade II listing’.
But Daventry District Council has raised no objections, with its planning case officer writing in a report to councillors: “The restoration to the hall itself should be given great weight, and in cases similar to these you would expect to see some compromise. Although the council would prefer to see further supporting information, in the interest of preserving a building which is of national importance, it is considered that the benefits of its restoration outweigh the harm.”
And the Victorian Society has also ‘welcomed’ the scheme, praising the ‘thorough approach being taken by the applicant to conservation, repair and reinstatement of features and spaces of key significance’.
Overstone Hall was built for the first Lord Overstone by W.M. Teulon, and over its history has also acted as a girls school, and as a home to the New Testament Church of God.
Elected councillors on Daventry District Council’s planning committee will meet on January 30 to determine the application.