Jones Homes buys Backford Hall for £5.4m

Emerson Group subsidiary Jones Homes has entered into agreement to buy Backford Hall in Cheshire from the local authority subject to obtaining planning permission.

Cheshire West & Chester Council's executive have agreed to sell the Grade 2-listed Jacobean-style hall in the village of Backford and 24 acres of grounds as part of its property review.

Jones Homes declined to confirm the number of units it was planning to build. The sale will not complete until Jones Homes is granted planning consent and agrees the proportion of affordable housing with the council. Talks are ongoing with planners about the scale of development. Jones Homes has acquired a mixed bag: the listed hall and lodge house must be retained, the grounds and pasture land are in green belt and there is a 1960s annexe that is likely to be demolished.

The former council offices were home to 200 staff in highways, trading standards and waste management departments. Staff were relocated to district offices to make way for the sale.

A report before CWAC councillors said the sale of the building would both generate a large capital receipt and also reduce the councils operating costs by around £300,000 a year.

Cllr Les Ford said: "Backford Hall served local government well for many years. Sadly it was something of a luxury in the current financial climate when savings are needed to protect frontline services.

"However, the building is listed and its retention will be part of the conditions required for planning permission."

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 18 Century. There were two previous houses on the site, the earliest dating from the 16 Century.

Colliers International advised the council.

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