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Urchfont Manor’s worth half at £2.7m
Urchfont Parish Council is concerned that the guide price for the sale of Urchfont Manor, which closed as an adult educational college this month, is less than half its valuation four years ago.
Wiltshire Council is marketing the Grade II* listed manor house through estate agents Knight Frank at a guide price of £2.7million. But when Wiltshire County Council considered a business case to transform it into a conference centre in 2008, the estate was valued at £6m.
Dave Mottram, chairman of Urchfont Parish Council, said: “The purchaser will also need to spend a lot of money on the property. However, Wiltshire Council are already paying for security guards, redundancy packages, and are not getting any revenue in – none of which would have been the case had they sold it as a going concern.”
The parish council has been working closely with Wiltshire Council to soften the blow of the closure of the college and the sale of the manor estate, which was bought by Wiltshire County Council for £10,000 in 1946.
Oakfrith Wood, part of the estate but made accessible to the public through efforts of volunteers, is to be transferred to the parish council, as is the playing field next to the village school.
But the Newsyde cricket pitch, home of Urchfont Cricket Club, is being marketed along with the estate and access to it will depend on goodwill of the buyer.
The existing permissive path between the village and the cricket pitch is being closed and pedestrians will have to walk along the busy B3098, which has no pavement, or cross the road from a public footpath.
Mr Mottram said: “There is no doubt Wiltshire Council is working with the parish council to preserve the amenities which exist on the manor estate.
“It is, however, very important we impress on Wiltshire Council the health and safety issues from having to access the cricket field on foot either along or across the B3098.”
The parish council is also concerned about the other side effects of the college’s closure, including the loss of 20 jobs, the loss of business to the pub and village shop from students at the college, and the loss of access to the manor grounds.
Since the property went on the market last week, Wiltshire Council has already received a number of approaches by interested parties. The family of Tom Barklem, a former deputy warden at the college, declared its interest in the purchase of the estate to continue its educational use shortly after the plans to close and sell it off were announced in January.
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The 2008 report to the former Wiltshire County Council cabinet was to highlight areas of work and options that could be included in a feasibility study and business case to develop Urchfont Manor. “The figure stated (around £6m) was an estimation and cabinet decided further work was needed and a more detailed, and refined, report was requested.
“The current guide price of £2.7m was recommended by an independent estate agent using their expertise of selling such properties. Interest in the property has been encouraging.”