Group 'disappointed' as bid to snap up historic hall is turned down

PUBLISHED: 08:20 29 November 2019

Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEY

Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEY

Archant

A campaign group's hopes of turning a large area of woodland into "a sanctuary" for future generations has been dashed, after their bid to buy the land was rejected.

Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEY Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEY

The group, Stop Easton Park (SEP), made an offer of £100,000 for Stone Hall, which dates back to the fourteenth century, in Little Easton, after the previous owner died.

A fundraising appeal issued by SEP saw about 85 members of the public respond, with the sum raised in just six days.

Stone Hall, a Grade II*-listed building and its surrounding 22 acres, sits within the boundary of the proposed new development known as Easton Park which would ultimately deliver 10,000 homes, if given the green light.

The proposed development is included in Uttlesford District Council's local plan, which has yet to be given final approval.

Vincent Thompson and Andy Mahoney prepared the bid for Stone Hall. Pictured at Little Easton Manor. Picture:  ARCHANTVincent Thompson and Andy Mahoney prepared the bid for Stone Hall. Pictured at Little Easton Manor. Picture: ARCHANT

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A SEP spokesman said: "Stone Hall is an integral part of Easton Park and the Easton Lodge Estate which remains a unique historic asset in Uttlesford. The historic assets of the Easton Lodge Estate would be substantially compromised by the proposed development of 10,000 houses and an area of peace and tranquillity would be destroyed."

If their bid had been successful, the campaign group would have set about restoring the property and turning it into a community centre.

A spokesman for SEP said: "It is a significant disappointment that the opportunity to secure this unique asset for the benefit of the community has passed us by. However, both Historic England (HE) and the Society for the Protection of Buildings are aware of the situation and HE have confirmed that they will follow up to protect the historic assets of Easton Park.

Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEYStone Hall dates back to the 14th century and sits within 22 acres of woodland. Picture: ALEX BEANEY

"We can also take comfort from the fact that by raising £100,000 for this initiative we have demonstrated the level of concern in the community about the future of Easton Park and our ability to fight our corner if required."

The land surrounding Stone Hall and proposed for development is owned by Land Securities. Jonathan Levy, development director at the company, said it did not bid for the land and had no plans to do so.

Tom Fraser, from the development team at Savills Cambridge, which is marketing the land for sale, said: "We have received bids from several interested parties and discussions are ongoing."

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