The owner of Firbeck Hall has reassured local campaigners that plans for the development of the historic building will be unveiled in the coming months.
In response to questions from the Friends of Firbeck Hall, owner Jason Cooper said that formal plans would be available for the public to view later this year and that he was keen to get the development ‘right first time’.
He also confirmed that, despite ‘economic challenges’, the planning application for the 16th Century building was at an advanced stage and that representatives from the development groups would meet with the Friends of Firbeck to display the facts.
He said: “When I was involved with the refurbishment of Loversall Hall, the cost was far more than it should have been simply because we did a lot of the work on a piecemeal basis. This was a mistake.”
“So with Firbeck, particularly in these much tougher times, we must do it right first time.”
“We have taken the view not to do any work to the hall or it’s grounds, unless it is essential, until we get the relevant planning permissions in place to do so, and this is exactly what we are doing.”
He said that although no major amount has been spent on the hall or the grounds so far, ‘considerable sums’ have been spent to ensure the planning application is at an advanced stage.
He continued: “Our team are working closely with Rotherham Council to ensure that the project we propose, is a sympathetic and practical restoration of Firbeck Hall, while also acceptable to the people of Firbeck.”
Mr Cooper also confirmed that work on West Lodge would start soon.
He added: “I am meeting the company that I hope will be making the gates to finalise the design and as part of the West Lodge refurbishment.”
“We shall also tidy up the whole entrance and provide a much more presentable gateway to the village of Firbeck.”
Firbeck Hall was built back in 1594 by William West and was formerly the home of 19th Century architect and writer Henry Gally Knight.
In 1935 the hall was opened as a country club. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the hall was used by Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the Royal Air Force, with the adjacent aerodrome becoming RAF Firbeck.
After the war, the building was bought by the Miners’ Welfare Commission for use as a rehabilitation centre for injured miners, which closed in 1984.
It was purchased by Cambridge Construction and the hall fell into a state of disrepair.
Jason Cooper bought the hall and its grounds in July 2010. Mr Cooper has a history of restoring country homes in the Yorkshire area, and led the renovation of Loversall Hall in Doncaster in 1998.
The Friends of Firbeck will hold their next general meeting in the coming weeks.