Villagers have expressed concern at plans by the owner of a derelict manor house to demolish it to make way for redevelopment.
Heckington Manor, a former clinic for alcohol addiction, has stood empty and decaying for over a decade since health service funding was cut and its owner, Dr Mostafa Morsy, had to close its doors.
Since then he and police have struggled to keep it secure from thieves, vandals and addicts, ‘urban explorers’ and ghost hunters to which it has become a magnet, as well as a headache for neighbours. Local police have expressed concern for intruders’ welfare as the property becomes increasingly unsafe.
Although the manor site dates back to the 15th century, the house dates from the late 1700s. It was altered in 1905 to become a children’s home, later an elderly care home before opening in 1987 as the Ferdowse Clinic for alcoholism treatment until closure in 2002.
Dr Morsy said he is proposing to knock down the building and will be applying for permission in the near future from the district council as, although it has no heritage listing, it is within the village conservation area. He said: “The place has been targeted by thieves, drug addicts and has been raided several times. It is only a shell. The police and myself are unable to secure it and it is costing more and more to maintain.”
He said it was becoming an obstacle to secure prospective developers. “The only way forward is to have it demolished. It is in a horrible state now,” he said.
But the parish council has already expressed reservations about the plans after he approached them for their endorsement. Dr Morsy countered: “Where were the villagers when people were breaking in and removing the roof, lead and copper piping? Now when it comes to demolition it is everybody’s problem.” He said if developed for housing it would provide income and investment to the village. “At the moment it is an eyesore, a danger and a hazard,” he said.
At November’s parish council meeting, chairman Richard Higgs said he had explained to Dr Morsy the manor’s significance in a conservation area. As a neighbour, Coun Higgs has had to declare an interest and will leave it to the rest of the council to consider whether to apply for listed building status when they meet in January.
Coun Higgs said: “It is of historical significance as it was the home of the Godson family and very much part of the village and the area.
Former TV newsman and reformed clinic patient, Tom Edwards, of Heckington was ‘horrified’ and ‘saddened’ to hear the plans. He said: “That place saved my life. It was a gorgeous building in its day and has gone to rack and ruin.”