A reality TV star and ex-footballer are planning to create a a luxury spa retreat at their Great Warford home which they have been struggling to sell for over five years.
Dawn Ward, star of The Real Housewives of Cheshire, and her husband Ashley Ward have applied to change the use of Warford Hall, which lies within the Green Belt, from a private residence with ancillary offices to a spa hotel along with a swimming pool.
The proposal includes refurbishing the hall and adding a two storey extension to provide a total of 16 bedrooms. A new spa facility will form part of the new extension works which is similar in scale to the extension previously granted, permission for which has now lapsed.
A total of 30 guests will be able to stay overnight and a limited number of pre‐booked day spa guests will also be accommodated. The existing provision of 68 car parking spaces will remain.
There are currently 15 people employed at the business and the proposed development will increase the number of employees to 30.
The Wards, who bought the hall 13 years ago, ran their property construction business 'Bilton Ward Developments' from there until it was hit by the recession. Before the recession the main business employed 30 people at Warford Hall. Now the focus is on interior design and employs 15 people. As a result of fewer people being employed, the buildings are no longer fully occupied.
According to the planning application, Warford Hall, which dates from 1867, is very expensive to maintain and run with the utility services costing over £100,000 per year and 3 people employed permanently to maintain the outside of the property and the 5 acres of garden.
The application states "The applicants wish therefore to establish a business that would help the Hall become sustainable and build upon the qualities of the property and its setting."
In April 2017 Dawn and Ashley Ward lost their appeal against Cheshire East Council's refusal to grant them planning permission to create a conference and wedding venue at their Great Warford home, with facilities for up to 130 people.
Great Warford, Little Warford and Nether Alderley parish councils all objected to the application along with over 200 local residents who complained that "Party Warford" was inappropriate in a quiet, rural village and would result in noise disturbance and increased levels of traffic on the narrow country lanes.
The latest proposal for a spa retreat is described as offering "a quiet and peaceful solution".
The plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East planning portal by searching for planning reference 19/2003M. The latest date for submitting comment is 13th June and a decision is expected by 6th August.
Photo: Warford Hall and an artists impression of the new spa retreat.