Assurances over historic St Ives house

Richard Rowland says The How should be put back on the map.

Richard Rowland says The How should be put back on the map. - Credit: Archant

Developers behind plans to turn the site of a listed mansion at St Ives into an “eco village” say they want to give the main building its place in history back.

Stay New Homes is this week expected to start pre-application consultations with Huntingdonshire District Council over a bid to turn The How into apartments for the over 55s.

It wants to build eight flats in the Grade II listed building - the home of the late Rex Wadsworth, a prominent local businessman and former mayor of St Ives - and a further two in the stables.

The firm has already been given the green light to build 18 new homes in the grounds of the building and refurbish its lodge building.

Richard Rowland, from the firm, said: “We are putting The How back on the map. It is almost as if it has been forgotten and we want to give it its history back.”

The building, which stands in 17 acres, is surrounded by development sites for around 400 new homes and Mr Rowland said they wanted to assure residents that there were no plans to build further homes there or to harm the listed building.

He said he wanted to make his family part of the building’s history and that he planned to live in one of the new homes there.

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Mr Rowland said it would not be viable economically to retain The How as a single property because it would cost £1 million for repairs and that it would probably continue to decay unless a conversion scheme was given the go-ahead.

“I stumbled across the project in 2016 and we finally purchased it in 2018,” said Mr Rowland.

He said there had been long-running discussions over what could be done with the site.

“All of this is going to be an eco village. In phase one the properties will have air source heat pumps and solar panels. There will be no gas on the site and we looked at using the River Ouse to generate electricity but there were problems with crossing rights of way,” said Mr Roland, who is living at The How.

He hoped the project would get under way next year.

He said: “We expect to start the pre-application process with the council this week for phase two to convert the Grade II listed building into eight two-bedroom apartments with two more in the stables.

“We are going to donate some of the artefacts from The How to the Norris Museum in St Ives.”

The How was designed by the Victorian architect William White and was built in 1868. It was listed last year because of its architectural merit ahead of potential development plans at the site.