Former school near Lancaster set to be turned into a hotel after change of use is approved

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The former Wennington Hall School near Lancaster is set to be transformed into a hotel after Lancaster City Council approved the change of use.

The application was made on behalf of Bowland Inns & Hotels, a hospitality company based in Clitheroe trading as James’ Places, have extensive experience of owning, developing and then operating a number of venues in the Ribble Valley, Kirkby Lonsdale and Settle - including the Royal Hotel in Kirkby Lonsdale.

James Warburton, chairman of James’ Places, said: “Wennington Hall will be a fabulous addition to our family of remarkable buildings and businesses.

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There is so much potential here, not just in the hall itself but in the extensive collection of buildings once useful to the school but now in need of fresh ideas.

Wennington Hall School closed in July 2022.Wennington Hall School closed in July 2022.
Wennington Hall School closed in July 2022.

“It is such a beautiful building in stunning gardens and grounds in an idyllic rural location, and yet it’s less than 20 minutes to Lancaster and the M6.

“Crucially, it is also less than 40 minutes to Morecambe, home to the Eden Project North, the most significant tourism development for Lancashire and the wider north west region for years.”

Wennington Hall is a primarily two-storey Grade II listed school, and is a former country house with towers with two additional floors.

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A heritage statement says the overall appearance of the building, except for some 1960s extensions, would remain unaltered.

Rooms would be reassigned with new functions but fundamentally the building would be unchanged.

Future plans for the site include converting outbuildings into treatment rooms, studios and gym spaces, as well as the possibility of a steam room, sauna and ice baths.

Other space could be transformed into a pop-up cinema, theatre and exhibition space.

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A further full application for change of use of the ex-residential school and ancillary buildings, as well as the erection of a single storey extension to the east, a single storey extension to the north and a two-storey extension to the north-east, is still to be decided after being submitted in May.

The school - which catered for children aged 11 to 16 with special educational needs - closed at the end of the 2022 summer term and was put up for sale.

It could accommodate 80 students, but had just 15 left on its roll.