Backford Hall for sale at £2m

Cheshire West & Chester Council said it has put the historic Grade 2 listed Backford Hall on the market for £2m as part of its plan to rationalise its inherited property portfolio, localise services and save taxpayers' cash.

Around 200 members of staff from several services are being moved to district offices by the end of the year to enable the sale of the 147 year old hall, its lodge house and 24 acres of grounds and pasture land.

Backford Hall in ChesterJulie Gill, resources director, said: "We have a completely open mind on possible uses for Backford Hall. It certainly has a wonderful semi-rural location, convenient for the motorway network, the zoo and Chester.

"While a hotel is the obvious option, other uses could include prestigious offices or perhaps even conversion back to a home of very real character and distinction.

"At the moment, there is no definite sale time and we are still thinking about a price guide in excess of £2m."

Cheshire County Council bought the 40-room Backford Hall, with its galleried hall, mahogany staircase, twisted chimneys and ornamental ceilings in 1946 for just £10,000.

The property had previously doubled as a country club, headquarters of the Salvatorian religious order and Liverpool shipping company office.

Framed within its own grounds opposite the 14th century St Oswald's Church, between the zoo and Chester, the council said Backford Hall is a prime real estate.

Backford Hall was built in 1863 in a mixture of Jacobean and Elizabethan styles for Lt Col Edward Holt Clegg, part of a Gayton landed gentry family that had owned the estate since the 18th century. There had been two previous houses on the site, the earliest dating from the 16th century.

Cheshire West & Chester Council said it will vacate the building on a phased basis as more "strategically placed" accommodation for the highways, trading standards and waste management staff becomes available elsewhere.

Gill added: "Backford Hall has served successive councils well over the years but it is a luxury in today's financial climate when we need all the efficiency savings to protect front line services."

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