Seasoned renovators Justin and Laura Whitston are adept at spotting a property’s potential, so when they spotted a derelict water filter station on the moor above Ilkley, they immediately knew it could be their dream home.
Some of the best views in Yorkshire and a secluded location were the main selling points but there was also scope for increasing the size of the accommodation. “The building came with planning permission for a simple conversion to a dwelling but we took a risk and bought it in the hope that we would be allowed to do something more contemporary. Bradford Council were very receptive,” says Justin, who bought the property in 2009.
With fresh plans approved, a construction team dug down to remove subterranean tanks and replace them with a new floor, while underpinning the Victorian structure. Then disaster struck.
The filter station, which dates to 1861 and was known locally as the Water Board House, was resting on stilts when it was battered by 70mph gales in the storms of April 2011. It was toppled to the ground.
“It was no longer a conversion so we then had to reapply for what was effectively a new-build on green belt land,” says Justin. “It took 12 weeks and we had to pay legal costs but in the end we got permission and the collapse of the building turned out to be a Godsend because it allowed us to build what is effectively a new home from the old stone.”
The third set of approved plans allowed them to lower the ground level, giving space for three floors and additional accommodation while adding an integral garage. It also boosted the original 1,200sq ft to circa 5,700sq ft of multi-functional living space, which is designed to make the most of the vistas.
The heart of the south-facing property is now framed on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding doors. The open-plan living area leads to a two-tier terrace with a hot tub so you can enjoy the rural outlook in sub-zero temperatures if you wish.
On the first floor, the luxurious master bedroom also comes with its own private terrace and a 180-degree, uninterrupted panorama that takes in landscapes as far away as Bradford, Leeds and Almscliffe Crag, near Harrogate.
“The Old Filter Station offers one of the most breathtaking views of the county’s best countryside,” says technology entrepreneur Justin, who also runs a property company with Laura. “You can watch the sun rise and set from the same chair, following its whole path during the day.”
The property took three years to complete and almost as long to decorate and fit out as the couple wanted to live in the building before deciding what would work best. The four-bedroom home at Burley Woodhead is now on the market for the first time with a guide price of £1.9m, as the Whitstons prepare to relocate overseas. They are planning to replicate The Old Filter Station on a building plot in Majorca.
“We dreamed this property and thankfully have been lucky enough to have lived that dream,” added Justin. “Bringing it to life from the empty shell we inherited was a labour of love but another chapter in our lives now beckons. We feel the time is right to say goodbye to this home and its lifestyle-led design and take on another similar challenge.”
The house, which is on a private road, has a ground floor with two en-suite bedrooms, a steam and sauna room, entertainment room with bar, bathroom, cinema room and a dressing room with en-suite bathroom.
On the first floor, the open-plan living area includes a central kitchen, informal seating area with wood-burning stove and a separate study area.
The second floor houses the master bedroom with dressing area, en-suite bathroom and a private terrace, along with a fourth bedroom and en-suite. The property comes with all mod cons, including underfloor heating, high-speed internet connections and an integrated Sonos sound system.
Outside, the Old Filter Station has an integral triple garage, driveway, terraces and gardens. It is being marketed through the Ilkley office of Linley & Simpson, whose Head of Residential Sales Mark Christopher says: “One of the first things that buyers tell us they look for in a new home is the view.
“This family home lays claim to having one of the most stunning and scenic views in Yorkshire. It boasts a design and architectural flair to match. The spacious accommodation has been cleverly designed in its layout, offering the epitome in versatility to suit the needs of a variety of different owners.
“This is particularly evident on the ground floor, where there is scope for different room use, such as an extra bedroom accommodation.”
Justin and Laura are sad to leave their hard-won “Grand Design” but say: “This is the longest we have lived anywhere and we never intended to move until we took the decision to go to Majorca. This has been a fantastic family home.”
*The Old Filter Station is £1.9m. For details visit www.linleyandsimpson.co.uk, tel: 01943 816888 or call Mark Christopher, Head of Residential Sales, on tel: 07787 698480.