A conservation group has raised concerns over plans to convert an historic building into a nursing home.
Ascot Nursing Home wants to turn Grade II*-listed Yateley Hall into a 38-bedroom home.
The Firgrove Road building was last occupied by J Rothschild Assurance Holdings as a head office but was put up for sale in March 2005. The building’s lease was finally surrendered back to the landlord in early 2010 and the building remains vacant.
Hart District Council approved plans to change the use of the building to a residential school in October 2012 but the permission was never implemented.
Ascot Nursing Home says its scheme will bring the listed building back into beneficial use and secure its long-term future.
But the Yateley Society has raised concerns. Vice-chairman Barry Moody said the group welcomed a long-term viable use for the building, providing it did not harm the important heritage asset.
He added a general concern the society has, is the long term sustainability of the building.
“By any standard, Yateley Hall is going to be expensive to operate and maintain,” said Mr Moody.
“As a Grade II*-listed building, maintenance work is very expensive as it has to be carried out to high standards, possibly using specialist contractors. It is a poorly-insulated building with single-brick skin walls, single-sash windows and essentially no roof insulation, making it very expensive to heat. This is an important factor for elderly and vulnerable people.”
Mr Moody said the building’s grounds, which contain water features, would also require significant maintenance costs.
“Using the building as a nursing home in itself has potential long-term implications insomuchas, if the business proves unviable and does not survive, the building is rendered more or less unsuitable for any other use.”
Mr Moody said the society is also concerned that additional fire safety measures may be required as the building will be home to vulnerable residents with limited mobility.
“It must be taken into account that the central core of the building is largely timber with some rooms having timber panelling,” he added.
“This could require further alterations to both the interior and exterior of the building.”
Ascot Nursing Home also plans to make alterations to the grounds, including new railings and gates and new hard landscaping. Sixty-nine of the existing car parking spaces will be retained and there will be a new covered shelter for six cycles. Bristol-based WYG, which is acting as agent for Ascot Nursing Home, said the proposals would secure the appropriate reuse of a long-vacant and important heritage asset and would not cause any amenity concerns to people living nearby.
WYG said the proposed ‘low key’ use of the building would have far fewer planning impacts than the existing approved office use and that very limited physical work would be needed to convert it.
Hart will make a decision on the application by April 30.