Work continues to transform derelict Cliff House mansion in Leeds into £8million Cliff Oaks gated community in Wortley

A Leeds-based developer is nearing completion on a new £8million gated community in Wortley.

By Rebecca Marano
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:11 pm

Priestley Homes has been developing the former Cliff House mansion site, in Fawcett Lane, for several years.

The Grade II listed building was first constructed as the family home of Joseph Cliff, a noted businessman, in 1843.

From the 1930’s the building was occupied as a boys school and remand home which ceased use in the 1990s.

Cliff House, in 2017, after an arson attack.

It began being restored in 2006 after the land was sold, but sadly suffered suffered fire damage which gutted the inside of the building and roof in 2017.

The fire was brought under control before any serious damage to the external façade could be done.

The building, which stands in large grounds, was then placed on Leeds City Council and SAVE Britain's Heritage's at risk register.

Priestley Homes began construction and redevelopment on the site to create the Cliff Oaks development.

Developer Priestley Homes is nearing completion of Cliff Oaks, a brand-new, £8million gated community in Leeds

Phase one saw the completion of seven bespoke, new-build townhouses adjacent to Cliff House.

Priestley Homes then progressed to renovating the mansion into eight luxury apartments, due for completion in spring 2022.

The entire site of Cliff House stands in an elevated position which ‘over-looks’ Fawcett Lane.

Phase three of Cliff Oaks began in February 2021 with the transformation of the mansion’s derelict stables into four three-bedroom houses.

The inside of one of the homes. Credit: Priestley Homes.

The stables, which are located over two levels and have their openings facing onto the centrally positioned courtyard, were in a "serious state of disrepair", according to Leeds City Council's planning officer.

The majority of the roof and interior had been lost.

Work to turn the stables into homes is due to be completed in spring 2022.

The developer has submitted plans to Leeds City Council for the fourth and final phase of the residential project, located on Fawcett Lane.

The planning application for the fourth and final phase will deliver a collection of four modern and contemporary townhouses.

When completed, Cliff Oaks will comprise of 25 homes in total.

The site is situated on a hillside location with views over Leeds and excellent connectivity into the city. Cliff Oaks is also surrounded by Cliff Park, offering a blend of city and rural living, with the centre just five minutes away.

Chief executive officer of Priestley Homes, Nathan Priestley, said: “We are always looking to invest in Leeds as our home city and Yorkshire as a region with incredible development potential.

"Leeds is a sought-after place to live and work, and Cliff Oaks meets the high demand for luxury, bespoke housing in the city.

"We have seen a great deal of interest in the townhouses, now they are available to reserve, and we expect to see a similar appetite for the wider development when we bring it to market.”

He added: " Re-developing heritage buildings and sites provides an opportunity to resurrect a piece of history and maintain invaluable character.

“Cliff Oaks is in a unique setting and is unlike anything else on the market; a gated development in private grounds with a grade-II listed mansion at its heart.

“While retaining history is important, the biggest benefit of this type of development is lessening the impact on the environment. Working with what is already there requires fewer materials and reduces emissions overall.

“When adding new-build properties to a heritage site, it’s important to ensure the design complements the listed element, which should always be the focal point.

“The materials must be carefully selected – with Cliff Oaks we specified a similar stone to the mansion for the front elevations of the new-build properties. In doing so, we worked closely with planners to ensure a successful blend of contemporary and legacy.

“Navigating the unknown is the biggest challenge when working with listed buildings, as it can often cause delays and increased costs. This hesitance when it comes to re-developing heritage sites is why buildings such as Cliff House will stand dilapidated for some time.

“It is also a challenge to maintain the historical parts of a completely ruined building, so careful attention and recording is always required.

“We are confident in the renovations we are carrying out on the mansion house, due to be completed in 2022. We will restore this grand property to its former glory, protecting a piece of local history while creating homes for future generations.”

Head of construction for main contractor Priestley Construction, Bob Priestley, said: “Regenerating heritage buildings takes time to do well and is one reason why we divided the scheme into four phases.

"It allows us to build out each stage meticulously, yet quickly, while showcasing our restoration expertise at its very best.”