Firstly, many thanks for taking the time to visit the site.
I should say upfront that we now own the company that owns Hanworth Park House and about seven acres of the surrounding parkland, and the purpose of this web site is to gather feedback and support to try and ensure the house is saved before it falls down. Equally, if we can answer questions and allay concerns over what we are proposing - we will.
We bought the house in 2014 from the previous owner who had owned it for the previous 15yrs and presided over its decline.
What he did achieve, and is very important when you consider whether to support our efforts or not, is to gain planning permission for a 166 bedroom hotel, which failed to attract any buyers or offers of finance after being marketed for nearly two years. We have put together a scheme which is very deliverable (we have several offers to build out), and uses the site of the consented hotel scheme. At the request of the Borough Council and Historic England, we have changed the layout of new buildings to be further away from the house, so it (once again) become a key feature and is re-connected to the main park area.
I fell in love with the house upon my first visit, amazed why (and how) it could be left for nearly a quarter of a century to rot and decay to the point that it is now "propped up” with several hundred scaffold supports to stop various bits of it from falling down.
For the last three years we have kept it safe with round the clock security and have undertaken all of the emergency repair works, after agreeing a plan to restore the house with Hounslow Council and Historic England. It may or may not surprise some of you that during this period, we have had quite a few "break-ins", largely by teenage kids, to either try and set fire to the house or steal stuff from it. However, and fortunately, the house is still standing, although I would not recommend anyone to go inside unaccompanied as it is now very dangerous and many of the rooms are sealed off as either the floors or ceilings (or both) have failed.
I won’t need to tell many of you how iconic the house actually is - but have become more amazed each time I discover a new piece of its history dating back over the last three or four hundred years.
We have tried to provide a few of the images that capture some of its history (including the current consented hotel) on this website, but LBH have described it as a “national monument”, and Historic England as one of the most important buildings in London.
For me, it’s simple - it would be a huge shame for a site that has had more than 600yrs of Royal ownership, coupled with the house and the huge amount of local history related to the two world wars and the aeronautical industry to be allowed to disappear forever. A point I have often made to both Historic England and Hounslow Council in the last few years whilst they deliberate on its future / survival...
It is clear that over the last 30 years or so, numerous previous owners have discussed with the local council how to save the house and restore it for a nursing home, hotel, or for private residential use. None of these have been successful for a variety of reasons, but increasingly due to the fact that the repair / refurbishment costs have increased from a few million to more than £10m as the house has fallen further and further into disrepair.
As we are intending, some of the previous owners have sought to employ a specific piece of planning legislation called “enabling development”. This was introduced to specifically help with the restoration of buildings where the restoration costs are greater than the value of what is created via the restoration. It effectively provides a subsidy for the building by allowing owners to breach certain planning policies. In our instance, we are proposing c 220 high quality (but not luxury) homes in the area of land between the house and Forest Road to create the £ 10m+ that is required to restore Hanworth Park House and the surrounding grounds.
All of our plans are on the Hounslow planning portal to see and go through. We have even disclosed our (usually confidential) viability assessment which details how much we are making on the scheme! It is about one-third of what Historic England define as a sensible benchmark for the risk we are taking.
Obviously, what we are doing is contentious as we need to build houses on the “green belt”. However, our arguments are ;
(1) This really is last chance saloon to save the house, and we have demonstrated that we are at the absolute minimum amount of development required.
(2) We appreciate that this area is green belt, but more than 90% is either owned by us, is derelict, or is completely inaccessible. We will be restoring more than 10 acres of parkland and opening it up for everyone to make use of. It is also critical to note that the new development has been deliberately positioned on land that previously housed large aircraft hangars and other industrial buildings, so it is most certainly not “virgin” green belt by any measure.
(3) As part of the community benefit, we are providing about 10,000 sq ft of community space in and around the house to be used by local clubs, societies and businesses, many of which are currently housed in buildings that are not fit for purpose across the borough. All of the ground floor feature rooms will be made available, and all the proceeds will go back toward looking after the house and other locally defined good causes.
(4) We should not forget the huge benefit of introducing 220 homes for local people. We expect more than 90% of these to be eligible for government incentives such as Help To Buy etc, and we are working with the council to try and also provide a meaningful number for rent and to be “true affordable” homes.
(5) This scheme will play a pivotal role in the regeneration of Feltham, Hanworth and the broader area and will bring hundreds of jobs and a boost to the local economy. We have made also provision to add several million pounds into the Hounslow and GLA Community Investment Levy to ensure that money goes to the other local resources (schools, doctors etc) to ensure we pay our share in the increased burden of these resources.
We would love to have your support either by adding in comments here or email them directly to the council for the attention of the Manager of Strategic Planning. Equally, if you have questions - please feel free to submit them here and we will answer them.
Lastly, local councillors and residents have been hugely supportive and helpful of which I am very thankful, but if we cannot convince the Hounslow planners to support this scheme - I am afraid that the house will not survive for much longer. So, please support us if you can.