Application for £20m restoration of Overstone Hall is deferred

Overstone Hall has been derelict since the 2001 blaze
Overstone Hall has been derelict since the 2001 blaze

Councillors in Daventry have voted to defer a planning application that would have restored the derelict Overstone Hall.

The grade II listed building was partially burnt down in 2001, and the planning application from Barry Howard Homes would have seen a £20million refurbishment of the hall and its conversion into 16 residential units.

But members of Daventry District Council’s planning committee ignored officer advice to approve the scheme last night (January 30) and decided to defer it, as they wanted more information on which to base the decision.

The councillors also wanted to consider it alongside an enabling housing development of 60 homes in the hall’s grounds, which the developer says will finance the restoration of the hall.

Historic England, as well as resident group Overstone RUINED, had expressed ‘significant concerns’ about the level of information submitted and did not believe that the committee had enough detail to determine the applications .

And Overstone Parish Council had ‘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.”

In a tight vote of 6-5, councillors voted against granting the scheme planning permission, and by the same score then voted to defer the application.

The council heard from officers that although both the restoration and enabling developments had been submitted at the same time, the latter application was ‘not quite ready’ to be heard yet.

Councillor Cecile Irving-Swift said: “In a perfect world we would be hearing both applications at the same time.”

And Councillor Ken Ritchie added: “I don’t think I can support this without seeing a hell of a lot more information about what the full plan is.”

But Councillor Alan Chantler said: “I’m surprised at some of the things that I’ve heard this evening. Members are asked to judge this application on planning grounds alone. The viability of the development is not a material consideration.”

No date has yet been set for the application to come back to the planning committee.