Stanmer House owners outline plans for their ‘jewel in the crown’

Posted On 13 May 2021 at 12:42 pm

Stanmer House by Gorse Fox on Flickr

The owners of Stanmer House have pledged to look after the stately home, calling it their “jewel in the crown”.

Brighton and Hove News revealed last week that KSD, which owns the leasehold of the grade I listed stately home, had applied to for a new licence, with the same terms as the previous one, including boxing, wrestling, alcohol and food until the early hours.

But the building maintenance company, which is headquartered from another listed Brighton building, Patcham Place, say they intend to withdraw the application to reassure people they don’t intend to turn it into a party venue.

Jason Gargan, who is managing Stanmer House for KSD group, said: “There’s no plans to have any late night drinking or boxing, or wrestling. That’s more for showing live sports but there’s no plans to do anything like that.

“We are withdrawing that licence because we don’t want to paint a picture that we are trying to turn it back into some party venue.

“There will be a café there permanently as part of our plans because we want people to be able to enjoy the building and grounds.

“Since Mike Holland there’s been a number of commercial ventures there which have all failed. It’s just not a commercially viable building.

“Luckily, we have got three local people [KSD directors Luisa Baker, Peter McDonnell and Mark Ratcliffe] who are very committed to the building. It’s the jewel in the crown in their portfolio.”

The company which previously ran the house, Country House (Stanmer), went into liquidation in July 2019 with estimated debts of £287,248, and was dissolved last October.

A liquidators’ final report said no assets were able to realised, leaving 12 creditors who lodged claims totalling £104,069 unpaid.

Mr Gargan said KSD had paid some creditors – particularly couples who had lost wedding deposits – out of its own pocket.

He also said that director Alex Proud’s claims that he had stopped trading after KSD put up the rent in January 2020 was “completely falsified”.

Mr Gargan said when KSD took back the commercial lease from Mr Proud, the backroom areas of the house were in poor repair, and the company has spent half a million pounds on a signification restoration.

It opened a small café over the Easter weekend serving hot food, which it intends to keep running over the summer.

Meanwhile, it plans to talk to heritage groups about its future plans for the house.

Planning permission to turn it into a hotel is still in place, as work on the drains was started. However, KSD says if it pursues that option, it hopes to amend the plans to be more sympathetic to the building’s history.

Mr Gargan said: “That hotel plan is still there and is something that is viable for us. We have other plans which we are looking into

“We want to restore it to its former glory without having to tear the historic fabric of the building out.”

  1. Nige Reply

    Alex Proud stopped trading as his venture was a loss making disaster.

    I would urge KSD to look at Cockington Court near Torquay. A very similar venue to Stanmer House in a popular country park, successfully being utilised as a cafe and arts / events venue.

    The problem with Stanmer House is it’s never going to be a money spinner. There are better country hotels and destination restaurants in Sussex than Stanmer could ever compete with. Better to leverage the current visitors – families, dog walkers etc – though with what exactly is the big question!

  2. Susan Cox Reply

    In yesterday’s Argus there is an application for a drink and entertainment license from 6am to 2 and 3am.
    On South Downs National Park Authority’s planning portal there is a pre-application for conversion of Stanmer House into 10 apartments..

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Why on earth does somebody sit down and think that the dull cliché “jewel in the crown” will arouse enthusiam for whatever these plans turn out to be? It bores readers to see such phrases, it suggests that tired minds are behind the proposals.

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