Further thoughts on Undershaw news

Yesterday evening I wrote a quick opinion piece on the news that Undershaw is to become a school...

Yes my post was not as upbeat as other people but we do need to be a little cautious.

It is of course good news that the house is leaving the hands of the would-be developers who had owned it since it ceased being a hotel. They had presided over a period of sustained neglect during which nature and humans had battered and defaced this significant building.

So it is clearly good that it is out of the hands of those people. But there are still questions. The only planning permissions in place for the building are for use as a single family dwelling or a hotel. Presumably planning permission will need to be sought for the building to be turned to educational use. We need to see what form any such plans take.

The building is grade II listed only which, if I understand it correctly, means that the exterior of the house must remain basically as is but little protection extends to the interior. The elation at the house's purchase will be tempered a little if we learn that what remains of the Victorian interior is to be stripped out. This is almost inevitable as the present interior, even if restored, is unlikely to meet legal requirements for a school.

Do the new owners seek to erect additional structures in the grounds? This was an element to the previous plans.

In short there is much we need to know. It is good that the house will remain a single building and, hopefully, restored (externally at least) to its Victorian splendour but what else will happen to it?

I also hope the new owners acknowledge the efforts of those who have fought to preserve the house and it would be nice if they worked with The Undershaw Preservation Trust to ensure that some lasting memorial to its famous former owner is erected. In my opinion an oil painting of Sir Arthur, who believed very strongly in the value of education, would enhance the house's hall.

Further details can be seen here.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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