Fresh lease of life for stalled development

MORE than two decades of uncertainty over the future of a landmark building high on the Malvern Hills now seems to be over, with a major redevelopment well under way.

Wells House, a former coaching inn which was later a school, has been in the hands of a number of developers over the last 20 years, but none of their plans have come to fruition.

The most recent project, by Chris Phillips Homes, got as far as opening a show apartment on 2008, but ground to a halt the next year after the firm went into voluntary liquidation as the economic crisis deepened.

But now Warwickshire-based firm FRD Associates has restarted the project.

Phase one of the development has been completed, with eight out of 11 apartments already reserved or sold. Work is under way on phase two, which will see eight more completed by the end of this month.

The firm is now talking to architects and district planners about bringing the coach houses next door back into use as two more homes.

Wells House was built in 1748 as a coaching inn and later converted into a small hotel for visitors who enjoyed the pure spring Malvern water in the grounds and visited the Holy Well, just 400 yards away.

In the 20th century the building was a boarding school until 1991. Sir Edward Elgar played the chapel organ there for many years.

Steve Dodd, of FRD, said: “This is a statement of faith that the property market is warming up.”

Ward councillor Chris Cheeseman said: “This is a very difficult site, and congratulations are in order if this developer manages to succeed after so many have failed.”

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