Once it was home to suited council officials but now Backford Hall is the centre-piece of an upmarket housing estate where homes are on sale for up to £800,000.
Jones Homes has already completed many of the 63 properties at the green and spacious location on the outskirts of Chester with work now underway to divide the old hall into 10 luxury apartments.
The first lucky residents have moved into 13 homes at Backford Park which will ultimately include a total of 45 two, three, four and five bedroom houses including 15 so-called affordable units on the perimeter of the site. Occupants are believed to include business people, semi-retired couples and young professionals.
Cheshire West and Chester Council sold the Grade II-listed Jacobean hall and grounds to Cheshire-based Jones Homes in a deal worth up to £5.4m.
A five-bed detached showhome has just opened showing off the beautiful lounge, bright conservatory, roomy en-suite bedrooms and a large garden. At the moment, only five-bed homes are available and the asking price for that particular design is a mouth-watering £799,950.
Later down the line there will be seven semi-detached dwellings in the coach house, stables and barn and the conversion of the detached lodge by Liverpool Road.
Jones Homes says its scheme ‘respects and works with’ the setting of the listed buildings and the settlement of Backford to return the site to its ‘former residential use’.
CWaC put the historic Backford Hall on the market as part of its plan to rationalise its inherited property portfolio, localise services and save taxpayers’ cash.
Around 200 members of staff from several services were relocated to district offices to enable the sale of the 147-year-old hall, its Lodge House and 24 acres of grounds and pasture land.
Cheshire County Council originally bought the 40-room Backford Hall, with its galleried hall, mahogany staircase, twisted chimneys and ornamental ceilings, for just £10,000 in 1946.
It had previously doubled as a country club, headquarters of the Salvatorian religious order and Liverpool shipping company office.
Backford Hall was built in 1863 in a mixture of Jacobean and Elizabethan styles for Lt Col Edward Holt Clegg, part of a Gayton landed gentry family that had owned the estate since the 18th century. There had been two previous houses on the site, the earliest dating from the 16th century. The hall is said to haunted by a bewigged lady in a pink dress while the sound of horses’ hooves has been reported in the night.
Supporting the granting of planning consent in 2014, council planning manager Fiona Edwards told members that although Backford Hall was in the green belt, the footprint of the new site would be a reduction on the current situation due to the demolition of several modern buildings. There would therefore be no impact on the openness of the green belt.