Plans to open a luxury hotel at the historic Bretton Hall estate will go before Wakefield Council’s planning committee on Thursday.
Construction of the 120-bedroom hotel would create up to 400 jobs if developers Rushbond Plc are given the all-clear to start work this year.
But the Yorkshire Gardens Trust and several others have written to the council concerned about the future of the estate’s grade-II Camellia House, which would be refurbished under the proposals.
The early 19th century summerhouse, which is open to the public, contains a collection of camellia plants which are nearly 200 years old. And some fear plans to use the building as a “reception and exhibition area” would take away an important heritage asset and local attraction.
Val Hepworth, conservation chairman at Yorkshire Gardens Trust, said: “The Camellia House is a highly important garden building. Many of the camellias are of quite an age, significance and beauty, and such collections are now relatively rare. These issues should be integral to any decision to grant planning permission.”
The planning report said there would be “no significant change” to heritage assets including the mansion, stables and Camellia House.
But it said a library, tutorial wing, ﬁnance ofﬁce, bungalow, part of a refectory and some residential blocks would be demolished, as they are of low architectural quality. A stable block, gym, theatre and the Ezra Taylor building would all be refurbished, with some of them becoming new creative studios. And Rushbound want to provide 39,000 sq ft of refurbished pavilion-style ofﬁce space.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield Civic Society and West Bretton Parish Council have expressed support for the development. And officers have recommended it for approval ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
A letter from Wakefield Council’s service director for economic growth and strategic housing Sarah Pearson said: “The proposed hotel and business park will make a major contribution to the council and partners’ plans to achieve progress on its plans to support economic growth, environmental, cultural and tourist development.”