The Red House in Gomersal was a museum, but Kirklees Council is to consider a £600,000 project to give the premises a new lease of life.
Proposals for the “ground-breaking” £600,000 project are set to come before Kirklees Council’s decision-making cabinet later this month (April 13).
They include “comprehensive refurbishment and some sympathetic remodelling” of the Grade II* listed 19th century manor house to become a five-star high-end luxury holiday home for commercial holiday letting, accommodating 10 people within five bedrooms to be let as a single holiday cottage unit.
The site’s cart shed will be remodelled and refitted to provide four individual self-contained holiday apartments, each accommodating two people, available to book either individually or in addition to the main house.
The barn is not included in the commercial proposal and remains a community asset.
Revenue generated from holiday stays is expected to be sufficient to cover the costs of operating the site and to enable a series of planned open days/weekends ensuring community access to the site for planned and curated activities and events. There will also be a room for weddings.
The handover could be as soon as March 2022 with the house open for holiday stays in April.
However the site will not be completely devoted to commercial hires. Community access to the house and gardens will be offered over a series of managed and curated events and open days thus allowing the public to enjoy the house and grounds.
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.
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.
Campaigners with the Red House Heritage Group wanted the site turned over to them.
Senior Labour councillor Graham Turner described the move as “ground-breaking”.
He added: “This project will not only help stimulate the local economy but will ensure that this historic building is retained as a publicly-owned building.
“We have never tried this type of project before, but I have every confidence that this will be a great success and could lead the way to other exciting commercial ventures that can protect some of our historic assets.”
The holiday home plan has also received the backing of local councillors David Hall, Lisa Holmes and Michelle Grainger-Mead who referred to Red House as “the heritage jewel in Gomersal’s crown”.
They said: “Without a doubt, the key to saving Red House for our community is finding a suitable use for the site, one which means it can pay for its own upkeep.
“Given its huge potential appeal to Brontë enthusiasts visiting the wider area, we agree that allowing tourists to holiday here could not only be the key to a financially sustainable future for Red House, but also trigger a wider tourism boost for other local businesses too.”