A MULTI-MILLION pound deal to sell council-owned Backford Hall to housing developers will boost the authority’s coffers in this time of financial austerity.
Cheshire West and Chester Council executive has agreed to sell the Jacobean hall to Cheshire-based Jones Homes.
But the sale of the historic former council offices will be conditional on the approval of a planning application by the authority’s planning committee.
The company has tendered up to £5.4m, conditional on planning permission and the percentage of affordable housing involved.
The authority 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 Grade II listed hall, its Lodge House and 24 acres of grounds and pasture land.
Cheshire County Council bought the 40-room Backford Hall, with its galleried hall, mahogany staircase, twisted chimneys and ornamental ceilings, in 1946 for just £10,000.
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.