Council agreement to save manor house near Northampton

New proposals that could see Overstone Hall restored to its former glory have been welcomed by councillors.

Daventry District Council has agreed to work with the new owners, Barry Howard Homes, to secure the future of the Victorian Grade II-listed premises, which were badly damaged by fire in 2001 and have continued to gradually decay.

The council has decided to restore the site based on Historic England’s policy on ‘enabling development’ – this is when development normally considered unacceptable is permitted, because the resulting public benefits outweigh the harm.

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An example would be to build new houses where planning policy would normally prohibit them, with the profits used to pay to restore an important heritage asset.

Barry Howard Homes (BHH) purchased Overstone Hall this summer from previous owners, the New Testament Church of God.

BHH is a development company previously involved with the restoration of Coton House, an 18th-century country house in Churchover, near Rugby. Various parcels of land are being considered for an enabling scheme and DDC officers will continue to work closely with the new owners on bringing proposals forward.

The council also agreed to reduce the money earmarked from its capital budgets for the restoration of the hall, from £750,000 down to £225,000, given the reduced risk of needing to use council money to protect the Hall.

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Councillor David James, member for strategic planning, said: “Achieving the restoration of Overstone Hall after it was ravaged by fire 15 years ago has been a long-standing objective for our council.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to securing this historic building’s future in our budget three years ago and since then we have worked hard to move things forward.

“It has been a long and challenging journey at times, but we are now in a position where the goal of restoration appears to be within reach.

“It’s an important part of our district’s heritage and we look forward to working closely with the site’s new owners to bring forward an enabling scheme in line with Historic England’s policy for consideration by the Council as a planning authority.”