Healing Manor to become a country hotel with first phase open by August
PLANS for Healing Manor to become a country house hotel will finally be realised.
Developer and village resident Mark Brennan has bought the historic property, which sits in 36 acres of parkland.
It will soon have a restaurant and bars back up and running, as well as five elegant bedroom suits, creating about 20 jobs.
The long-term vision for a spa and conference centre remains, with further bedrooms to be added down the line.
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The deal, worth several hundred thousand pounds, completed yesterday after lengthy negotiations, and Mr Brennan aims to have the first phase open by August.
It heralds a new dawn for the manor, after a troubled few years, and marks a return to Mr Brennan’s hospitality roots. He first worked at his cousin’s hotel in Fleetwood, and went on to launch both The Art Bar and Sugar Sugar in Cleethorpes.
Revealing to the Telegraph that he also plans to make it his home, as he “is in it for the long term,” he said: “The chance to take on this project in the village where I live was too good an opportunity to miss.
“I will be aiming for a good star rating. I want it to be a hotel of country house standard, where food is reasonably priced and the whole village can enjoy it.
“For a number of reasons the negotiations to conclude this deal have taken nearly nine months and I am very grateful to my team of advisers, including Nikki Hawkins from Wilkin Chapman Grange and Carl Bradley of Clark Weightman, who have worked hard to make this happen. Now we have completed my aim is to be open for business by August with renovation work starting at once.”
Once the estate of Viscount Gerald Berkley Portman, plans for a 65-bedroom hotel, with major building expansion to the current 88-room manor, were first revealed by a consortium of businessmen in November 2005, having purchased it from farmer Neville Peasgood for £1.3 million the previous summer.
July 2008 saw Healing Manor opened as a restaurant, bar and function venue, then under a single owner, leisure entrepreneur Kash Pungi. Plans to provide rooms were never realised, and the business lasted less than 18 months. Healing Manor was back on the market in May 2010, with tenants not found to take it on, after Mr Pungi admitting he was not the right person to run it.
Since the doors closed to the public in December 2009, Vietnamese illegal immigrants have been prosecuted after being caught cultivating a cannabis plantation there, with mortgage holder Royal Bank of Scotland repossessing the Stallingborough Road property just under a year ago. It was then put up for sale for £650,000.
William Downing, of selling agent Pygott & Crone, has worked with Mr Brennan’s team throughout. He said: “The condition of the property and the reluctance of the banks to fund this type of project have meant that only a particular type of entrepreneur with a willingness to commit his own capital could contemplate tackling a challenge of this size. Now the sale has completed we wish Mark and his family every success. It is great for Healing and great for the whole area.”
Mr Brennan, who achieved four star status for Sugar Sugar with individually-themed rooms at the Market Place venue – a major project that saw the derelict London Guest House transformed back in 2005.
“There is lots to do and it will all be done over a period of a few years,” he added. “For August we are looking at having the bridal suite and four other beautiful suites ready, as well as the public areas, so people can see what we’re aiming at. There will be then be nine more rooms in converted stables. There is already planning permission for the spa and conference centre, but that’s not going to happen immediately. This is a long-term project that we have decided, as a family, that we are going to do.”
One of the attractions at Healing will be beer brewed by daughter Jo and her partner Peter, who operate three London pubs.