Crumbling manor house owner delighted as development work set to start

Christopher Firmstone outside Wordsley Manor.

Christopher Firmstone outside Wordsley Manor.

First published in Local

THE owner of historic Wordsley Manor has spoken of his delight that work is finally due to start on a long-awaited project to build new homes and restore his crumbling mansion.

Selbourne Homes is getting set to start building 14 plush new homes in the grounds of the Grade II listed manor house off Meadowfields Close, Wordsley.

As part of the scheme, which will comprise a mix of three, four and five bedroom homes, the Hagley based developer will also carry out £400,000 of work to restore the manor house’s decaying wings and roof.

Retired architect Christopher Firmstone and his wife Joan inherited the dilapidated property more than 20 years ago and fixed up much of it but ran out of cash to complete the repairs.

To fund the extra work Mr Firmstone devised a plan to sell off part of the site for new homes and spent years working with the developer and battling Dudley planners and protesting residents to win approval which was finally granted in 2011 after measures to preserve the area’s wildlife were upped.

The 76-year-old told the News: “It’s just been simply quite unbelievable - but we’re there at last.

“It’s very nearly seven years since I first started talking to planning officers and first expressed what I wanted to do.

“We’ve been lucky to have a jolly good developer who has stuck the course.

“It’s been a difficult job. It’s an unusual property and an unusual situation.

“I don’t think there would be many developers who would be prepared to go through all the hoops to achieve a satisfactory outcome. I’ve been lucky there.”

Gavin Warr, managing director of Selbourne Homes, said the scheme was one of the company’s “most exciting developments” which will look “like it was built as part of the original estate grounds”.

The new homes, priced between £220,000 and £300,000, will range from cottage-style homes to luxury five bedroom houses designed to look like a converted stable block.

Mr Firmstone said: “The developers have been to a lot of trouble to make a sympathetic scheme. I think in many ways the house will sit well in the new context. There will still be one and a half acres left around the house. It will give us a new lease of life.”

He added: “When I first inherited this house it was in a pretty bad state. The wings were already shot and it was in a very, very poor state. It was verging on the point of no return.

“I spent a lot of time and money when I first inherited it but I hadn’t the money to completely finish the job off.

“I think most people would have probably gone away and sold the whole place - I don’t know what it would be now.”

Nine homes will be built as part of the first phase of construction, which is expected to start in June.

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