Stone Cross Mansion
Persimmon Homes Lancashire purchased a small local house builder some years ago. As part of the land portfolio they acquired a rather unusual site occupied by a historic building in need of repair. Taking responsibility as owner of the site we sought to work with the local authority and Historic England to seek a solution to the sustainable restoration and development of the building.
Stone Cross Mansion is a Grade II listed mansion on the outskirts of the historic market town of Ulverston, Cumbria. The mansion was built in limestone to a Gothic/Scottish Baronial style between 1874-79. The property stayed within the same family until 1943 when it was requisitioned by the military. In 1946 it was sold to Lancashire County Council and, following a series of unsympathetic extensions and alterations, was used until the 1980s as a boarding school. It was then occupied by a local company but once they moved out in 2001 a combination of fire and vandalism reduced the building to little more than a shell. Since acquiring the site Persimmon has put much effort into stabilising its condition in readiness for development.
To protect the future of the mansion, it was allocated (along with the grounds) for Residential Enabling Development in the South Lakeland Local Plan. Planning permission was granted earlier in 2016 for 19 apartments in the mansion itself, conversion of the Gatehouse into one bungalow and for the building of 45 new houses in the grounds. The conversion works have been carefully designed to respect, with minimum intervention, the significant features, assets and spatial arrangements of the existing building.
The new build housing layout creates an exclusive development set within the mature woodland, carefully considered to minimise its impact on the Listed Building and developed trees. Retaining the open space fronting the mansion and the established tree belt, the houses are nestled between the pockets of the most significant trees and within the natural hollows to the peripheries of the site. The clustered arrangement of the development is articulated through a combination of carefully varied shape, form, scale and roofscapes reflecting the mansion itself. The courtyards and terraces provide a character that is in keeping with the imposing nature of the mansion. Works began in September 2016, with archaeological recording. The first property is expected to be complete in summer 2017.
This development will ensure that Stone Cross Mansion and its grounds remain an important heritage asset, restoring its former public glory to make a positive contribution to the fabric of Ulverston and its historic environment for years to come.
“Persimmon correctly identified that the Stone Cross site is a very sensitive site which required a careful, consultative approach in order to build the required support from the local authority and wider stakeholders. Using design as the medium a shared vision was developed and later adopted. The vision was actively evolved through regular consultation and objective reasoning and Building Information Modelling technology was used as a platform to inform debate and prove that any impact on the setting of the listed asset could be appropriately mitigated. Bespoke house types were developed to help create a suitable character for the wider development and Persimmon’s willingness to adapt its product in this regard was key to winning local support for the scheme.”
Ian Grice BSc, BArch, PGDip RIBA
Northmill Associates Ltd