Campaigners 'open-minded' about plans to turn historic Grade II-listed building into five-star high-end luxury holiday home

Campaigners who fought to save Gomersal’s historic Red House say they are “open-minded” about a decision to turn it into a short-term holiday destination and intimate wedding venue.

The former Red House Museum in Gomersal
The former Red House Museum in Gomersal

The former Red House Museum, which has connections to Charlotte Brontë, was closed by Kirklees Council in 2016 as part of a reaction to Government austerity cuts.

There then followed a lengthy campaign by the Red House Heritage Group to take on the site and develop it as a heritage resource.The council turned down three asset transfer requests and announced in September 2019 that the building and grounds were to be put on the market.

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The Red House Heritage Group wanted the site turned over to them.

Last week the council revealed that the Grade II* listed 19th century manor house to be comprehensively refurbished to become a five-star high-end luxury holiday home for commercial holiday letting. There will also be a room for weddings.

Reacting to the news, Red House Heritage Group said its priority remains that the site “is respected and protected in public or community hands”.

A spokeswomen said: “We recognise that for this to happen, there must be an appropriate, sympathetic and financially viable use for the site, so while we certainly welcome the investment, we remain open-minded about the council’s new approach.”

As well as the main house the site’s cart shed will be remodelled and refitted to provide four individual self-contained holiday apartments.

The barn is not included in the commercial proposal and remains a community asset.

The group, which has been granted charitable status and will now be known as Red House Yorkshire Heritage Trust, said it has been assured that there is a commitment to ensuring the local community can also access Red House over a number of open weekends and specially-curated events throughout the year, “which pay homage to its outstanding heritage credentials”.

The group added: “The council have also assured us that as the barn will not be a part of the new commercial activity there could be scope for community and heritage activities to be based there in the future.”

With its connections to Charlotte Brontë, who stayed at Red House and renamed it ‘Briarmains’ in her 1849 novel Shirley, the site is expected to have broad appeal.

Red House Museum, which explained the history of Gomersal’s intrepid feminist and author, Mary Taylor, and her friendship with Charlotte Brontë, was one of two venues closed by Kirklees Council in December 2016 amid budget cuts.