New occupants at historic Mount Oswald Manor House through innovative ‘property guardians’ project

May 27, 2014 | Group News

New occupants have moved into a 200 year-old manor house in Durham City as part of an innovative scheme to safeguard the property during its redevelopment.

The historic Mount Oswald Manor House forms the centrepiece of the Mount Oswald site for which local family business The Banks Group was granted planning permission for proposals encompassing executive housing, an education quarter, new formal and informal public open spaces and a range of new community facilities a little over a year ago.

Having taken possession of the Grade II-listed building at the turn of the year following the closure of the golf course, Banks has worked with the Newcastle branch of property management firm Ad Hoc Property Management Ltd to find suitable people to move into different parts of the Manor House on short-term licence agreements.

In return for paying a very low fee for their occupation of the building, the new occupants act as guardians for the property, ensuring that the fabric of the building remains in good shape, reporting any problems that they come across and keeping a general eye on all parts of the premises.

Building work on the Mount Oswald Manor House began in the year 1800, with the property being sold in 1806, along with 33 acres of land, to Thomas Wilkinson, who was an Alderman of Durham and mayor of the city in 1804 and 1810.  It was used as a family home throughout the 19th and into the 20th century, although a serious fire in 1900 destroyed much of the central part of the property, which subsequently had to be rebuilt.

The site was transformed into a golf course in 1928 for Durham City Golf Club and was operated by the previous owners North of England Estates Ltd as a conference, restaurant and golfing centre, following the clubs move to new premises at Littleburn in the early 1970’s.

Banks is currently developing plans for the sustainable conversion of the Manor House into high-quality apartments, with additional new build properties being added in the car park area.

John Ruddick, senior property development manager of Banks Property, says: “Having taken over the Manor House with the rest of the site, we have a responsibility to ensure that this important building is properly safeguarded and remains in the best possible condition.

“Putting people into what would otherwise be a vacant property is one of the best ways of achieving both these goals, and it’s also a really positive outcome for our carefully-chosen occupants who not only get to live in a Grade II Listed building, but who do so at a very low cost.

“The Manor House will remain at the centre of the Mount Oswald site, and we are currently working towards finalising proposals that will see it return to its original use as residential accommodation.”

Marie Taylor, Branch Manager at Ad Hoc Property Management, adds: ”It has been an honour to help look after such a beautiful historic building, as on so many occasions, we see these kinds of properties fall into disrepair very quickly when they are left empty.”

Banks’ Mount Oswald project will see around 120 people employed on site during the construction phase of the scheme, with a further 100 jobs supported across the supply chain.

It will also lead to more than £4.2million being allocated by the company to pay for substantial enhancements to the local community, such as improvements to both the Howlands Park and Ride service and local highways, and contributions to the construction of a new community building at Lowes Barns and the provision of additional classrooms at two local schools, St Oswald’s Church of England and Durham St Margaret’s Primary.

Up to a further 164 permanent jobs could also be supported by the different elements of the Mount Oswald development when it is complete, with local employment opportunities being created on the site through a new convenience store, University buildings and small offices.

Work on the first part of the site’s development is expected to begin in the near future, with North East housebuilder David Wilson Homes planning to build 60 detached, four and five-bedroom properties on a 12-acre portion at the southern end of the Mount Oswald site.

John Ruddick adds: “It’s exciting to be on our way to realising our vision for Mount Oswald as an outstanding, high quality, low density, sustainable new neighbourhood of families and students with a green infrastructure that provides new green links and wildlife habitats and is well connected to public transport.

“We will continue to ensure that everyone across local communities and all other interested parties are kept fully informed as we reach different milestones within the Mount Oswald project, and look forward to reporting further progress through the year.”

For further information on the Mount Oswald project click here

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