Monday, 14 October 2019

BBC puts Caversham Park estate back on the market

BBC puts Caversham Park estate back on the market

THE BBC’s former home in Caversham is back on the market.

Caversham Park, a 93-acre estate off Peppard Road with a Grade II listed manor house, was first put up for sale more than two years ago as the broadcaster wanted to reduce its property costs.

An anonymous bidder made an undisclosed offer a year ago but a deal appears to have fallen through.

Estate agent Lambert Smith Hampton, which is handling the sale, is advertising the property again.

It says the estate is an “exceptional development opportunity” and suitable for conversion into housing or a “range of alternative uses” including potential new development within the grounds. These could include care housing, retirement properties, a hotel or a leisure, education or healthcare facility.

The main house has a floor area of 99,199 sq ft over three-and-a-half storeys and a number of outbuildings with a total of
14,860 sq ft of floor space.

The estate agent says the main house could be converted back into a single residence or divided into about 48 flats in its historic parts with more recent extensions being demolished.

It says there are six plots around the perimeter of the estate, particularly the northern section, where additional development could go. It says new homes would offer a “sustainable and much-needed development solution” as long as the work is sympathetic to the character of the area.

The BBC is offering part of the land on a freehold basis and the rest on a 999-year lease.

The estate was owned by various families of the landed gentry from the early medieval period until the Twenties and the current house was built in 1850 after the previous one burned down.

The grounds were sculpted by landscape architect Capability Brown in the early 18th century.

It was the home of the Oratory School, now based near Woodcote, from 1922 until it was sold to the BBC in 1941. It used to house BBC Monitoring, which translates media broadcasts from around the world, and BBC Radio Berkshire.

Lambert Smith Hampton says it is an ideal site for housing because of its proximity to Reading town centre, which will be a stop on the new Crossrail service. In 2017 Reading Borough Council, the planning authority, said it would not permit a residential scheme and any future owner would have to respect the building’s heritage.

The agent says it is working with the council and Heritage England to “discuss how constraints can be worked around sympathetically”.

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