REDEVELOPMENT of a disused school building will create up to 30 jobs and breathe new life into a picturesque Cheshire village.
Bolesworth Estate has submitted plans to transform the Grade II-listed former Harthill School and schoolmaster’s house into a high-quality restaurant and pub.
Proposals also include a staff apartment, the demolition of a 1960s extension and conservatory, and construction of a single-storey rear extension with patio, and the rebuilding of an existing barn as a storage facility for plant and bicycles.
Neglected outdoor space would be utilised for landscaping, parking for up to 59 vehicles, and an accessible children’s play area and dog-friendly 1,000-metre trail which will later feature interactive displays and sculptures.
Bolesworth’s Managing Director Nina Barbour said their long-term vision is to work in partnership with Sandstone Ridge Trust – Sandstone Ridge has been shortlisted for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation – and create a venue which supports the local economy while complementing its scenic surroundings, nature, and biodiversity.
“As well as creating a brand-new leisure space that generates footfall and creates jobs, we want to breathe life back into what is one of the most beautiful areas of Cheshire,” said Nina.
“We are mindful of the impact it will have locally as this is such a historic building, and the response has been positive and welcoming, with many people keen to see an empty site turned into something that will benefit the community, notably families, walkers, and small businesses.”
She added: “The emphasis is on quality, from the design and construction of the restaurant to customer service and food and beverages – we will be setting the bar high.
“As part of a vision that stretches over the next five years and beyond, we will be looking at the leisure, hospitality and accommodation offering across the 6,500-acre Bolesworth Estate for residents and visitors to the area.
“There are so many opportunities out there, notably around Sandstone Ridge which is a stunning location fully deserving of AONB status; this project will support that and give the village of Harthill and surrounding areas an economic boost. Together with local businesses and stakeholders we plan to use this project as a catalyst and platform to really showcase what Cheshire West has to offer.
“We will be looking to make quick progress and begin the development immediately if we do receive the green light from planning. The school has been vacant for a long time and there is an appetite for a high-class, top-quality destination that will reinvigorate the village.”
The school building dates back to 1868 but was ravaged by fire in 1922. It was rebuilt but closed 15 years ago with just nine pupils. It then became a cookery school but shut down in the pandemic and has been empty ever since.
Bolesworth’s Property and Leisure Director Mike Crowther said the Harthill School development will act as a gateway to Sandstone Ridge and form part of the popular walking and cycling network.
“The project celebrates this incredible rural area, its nature and heritage,” added Mike.
“There are so many benefits beyond the investment into the area, from the sourcing of local food and drink from independent suppliers to the restoration of a historic building which has lain empty for years, improvements in access to the site to ease traffic congestion, and a high-quality customer experience.
“We will continue to work closely with the community, the Sandstone Ridge Trust, the parish council and other relevant bodies to ensure we all take this journey together and provide an opportunity for sustainable economic growth that we hope will become a firm favourite with locals and attract new visitors – notably walkers and cyclists – to one of this region’s hidden gems.”
For more information and if you have any questions on the proposed development, visit www.bolesworth.com/Harthill.
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