Plans to save the deteriorating Firbeck Hall – which has been unused since the mid-1990s – have been approved by councillors.
The centuries-old hall and stables, both listed buildings, are set to be converted into apartments with new-build housing elsewhere on the site.
But because the development will cover more than 1,000 square metres in a green belt location, the government automatically has a right to ‘call in’ the application for scrutiny within 28 days, though councillors have been told that would be unlikely.
Homes in the complex are expected to start at £200,000, with profits from the new build homes effectively bank-rolling the restoration of the historic buildings in a project costing round £11m.
Coun Bob Walsh told Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning board, which approved the scheme: “This appears to be the best compromise we are going to get. It is an important building and much loved.
“It needs to be able to earn its keep in the future. It is the ‘least worst’ option, a viable one.”
Firbeck Parish Council is now planning to open a dialogue with the developers, in the hope of getting a footpath opened up in the grounds of the hall.
The hall dates from the 16th century and was turned over to use as a country club in the early part of last century, before being taken over as a hospital during the Second World War and remaining in the health service until its closure.
Modern buildings on site, dating from its use as a hospital, would be demolished to be replaced by the new housing, which would increase buildings on the site by around 20 per cent.
The meeting was told the hall is in a very poor state of repair, with one gable collapsing in recent weeks. Firbeck Parish Council supported the plans, but had some concerns about details of the scheme.