Historic hall near Doncaster - once a playground for the rich and famous - set for renovation

Firbeck Hall.
Firbeck Hall.

Long-awaited plans to renovate a crumbling 16th century stately home - a former playground for the rich and famous - have been welcomed by heritage campaigners.

Grade II-listed Firbeck Hall was once an exclusive country retreat visited by celebrities and members of the royal family but has become a target for vandals and arson attacks since closing its doors in 1990.

But applicant Ashley Wildsmith, of Sophia Property Developments, has now revealed plans to renovate the site, which was built in 1594.

Planning applications submitted to Rotherham Council reveal the three-storey mansion near Maltby would be converted into 21 apartments with three more in a nearby stable block.

An annex added last century would be flattened to make way for eight further properties.

The scheme has now been supported by campaign group Save Britain's Heritage and Friends of Firbeck Hall.

Mike Fox, deputy director of Save Britain's Heritage, said: "In recent years the rate of rate of decay has significantly advanced, and it is essential that restoration works are carried out as soon as possible to prevent the total loss of the building. "

Simon Drohan, chairman of the Friends of Firbeck Hall, added: “The Friends group has adopted a supportive stance in encouraging the owners and local authority to work together to develop a viable future for the site which would see Firbeck Hall restored, occupied and in regular use, and we are delighted that a detailed planning application has now been submitted.”

Regarded as a retreat for the rich and famous in the 1930s, Edward, the then Prince of Wales, once flew in for a visit on his royal Dragon aircraft.

The BBC also broadcast weekly shows from its dance hall and its opulent interior featured in the pages of Vogue magazine. It was later used as an RAF base during the Second World War and then as a rehabilitation hospital for workers who suffered industrial injuries until closing 27 years ago.

A fire tore through the roof space in 2009. Planning documents submitted by Mr Wildsmith, who is thought to have bought the site in 2015, said: “Due to the severely dilapidated state of the buildings, any restoration needs to happen sooner rather than later to prevent further deterioration to the point of a severe structural failure.

“The extensions to be demolished have no historic merit and as such their removal will benefit the setting of the listed buildings.”

The public consultation period on the plans ended on August ended on August 21. The scheme will be discussed by councillors at a later date yet to be fixed.