Agenda item

Knuston Hall

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive:

 

a)    Approved the preparation and launch of a marketing campaign to offer the site for sale on the open market.

 

b)    Delegated authority to the Executive Member for Highways, Travel & Assets in consultation with the Assistant Director of Assets & Environment to authorise the completion of the land sale and finalise sale terms.

 

 

Reasons for Recommendations

 

·         Knuston Hall is a Grade II listed heritage asset, which is currently run as a residential adult learning centre within the Assets & Environment service.  It has, until recently, provided conference facilities and short courses. Revenue investment is required in the hall which combined  with a limited market demand has meant that the Hall’s current use is no longer viable as an asset of the Council.

·         As a Grade II listed heritage asset, the Hall is protected through planning, associated heritage land and property policy. The Council will, therefore, as the Local Planning Authority continue to regulate development of the site. 

·         The asset requires investment and, without a viable local authority use, it is not considered appropriate to invest public funds.

·         The Council supports Chester House Estate, which is less than three miles away from Knuston Hall, and this could provide an alternative location for conferencessupported by the Hall with accommodation located close to the Estate.

·         There is opportunity to redeploy the staff employed at Knuston Hall to suitable alternative employment within the Council, following a consultation process; a redundancy situation does not therefore arise.

·         Whilst the council provides an Adult Learning service as part of its core business, the residential service provided at Knuston Hall is separate to this. Running a hotel service is not part of the Council’s core business

 

 

Alternative options considered:

 

·         To use the site for alternative Council uses, such as a public care home. The Hall does not comply with the regulations for such uses and has, limited development options imposed by the heritage status

 

·         The site has limited infill residential development opportunity. It is not suitable for Council housing use.

 

·         The site could be continued to be operated as a residential learning centre, under the current business model, however, as detailed in the report and appendices, this would require significant upfront and ongoing investment in the building and the business model, which is not considered an appropriate use of public funds.

 

·         Options have been considered for alternative Council uses but without expending substantial public funds the Council can only sustain a limited number of heritage assets and without a viable use; it is not in the public interest to commit funding to Knuston Hall.

 

 

Minutes:

The Chair invited Cllr Jon-Paul Carr to address the meeting. Cllr Carr referenced the longevity of adult learning operations at the site and noted the beneficial impact that the site had offered prior to its closure. A query was raised as to how the impact on users of the site was measured and the potential for alternative future uses of the site. Cllr Carr concluded that it was positive that ward members would be consulted as part of the marketing of the site.

 

The Chair then invited the Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets Cllr Graham Lawman to introduce a report that sought to advise the Executive on options for the future use of Knuston Hall and to seek a resolution in that regard.

 

Cllr Lawman provided an overview of the facilities at the site, noting that it had formerly operated as an adult learning residential college prior to closure as part of the government response to the COVID19 pandemic. It had briefly opened in 2021 with heavily restricted guest numbers until it closed again in January 2022, prompting a review of the building, the business operations, and potential alternative uses.

 

Members considered potential future uses for the building and discussed marketing of the site.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive:

 

a)    Approved the preparation and launch of a marketing campaign to offer the site for sale on the open market.

 

b)    Delegated authority to the Executive Member for Highways, Travel & Assets in consultation with the Assistant Director of Assets & Environment to authorise the completion of the land sale and finalise sale terms.

 

 

Reasons for Recommendations

 

·         Knuston Hall is a Grade II listed heritage asset, which is currently run as a residential adult learning centre within the Assets & Environment service.  It has, until recently, provided conference facilities and short courses. Revenue investment is required in the hall which combined  with a limited market demand has meant that the Hall’s current use is no longer viable as an asset of the Council.

·         As a Grade II listed heritage asset, the Hall is protected through planning, associated heritage land and property policy. The Council will, therefore, as the Local Planning Authority continue to regulate development of the site. 

·         The asset requires investment and, without a viable local authority use, it is not considered appropriate to invest public funds.

·         The Council supports Chester House Estate, which is less than three miles away from Knuston Hall, and this could provide an alternative location for conferencessupported by the Hall with accommodation located close to the Estate.

·         There is opportunity to redeploy the staff employed at Knuston Hall to suitable alternative employment within the Council, following a consultation process; a redundancy situation does not therefore arise.

·         Whilst the council provides an Adult Learning service as part of its core business, the residential service provided at Knuston Hall is separate to this. Running a hotel service is not part of the Council’s core business

 

 

Alternative options considered:

 

·         To use the site for alternative Council uses, such as a public care home. The Hall does not comply with the regulations for such uses and has, limited development options imposed by the heritage status

 

·         The site has limited infill residential development opportunity. It is not suitable for Council housing use.

 

·         The site could be continued to be operated as a residential learning centre, under the current business model, however, as detailed in the report and appendices, this would require significant upfront and ongoing investment in the building and the business model, which is not considered an appropriate use of public funds.

 

·         Options have been considered for alternative Council uses but without expending substantial public funds the Council can only sustain a limited number of heritage assets and without a viable use; it is not in the public interest to commit funding to Knuston Hall.

 

 

Supporting documents: