MYSTERY OF THE MANOR … Uncertainty about future of Underscar

Date: Friday 6th September 2013

THE future of one of the Lake District’s most distinctive properties, Underscar Manor at Applethwaite, near Keswick, is already shrouded in mystery following the clearance of many of its contents last month.

Now there is a fresh twist to the story as Lake District National Park Authority planners say they are likely to take further steps over alleged unauthorised work both inside and outside the house.

Residents believe the Russian owner of Underscar a former hotel where the Queen and Prince Philip once dined has handed over ownership to his wife.

Locks were recently changed on the building, which dates back to the 1850s when it was first built in Italianate-style by a Liverpool merchant, and closed circuit television is monitoring the grounds.

A planning application for listed building consent, which was initially lodged with the national park planners in 2011, has now been determined and refused.

The application referred to work already carried out as well as future plans for Underscar, which has latterly been owned by the Russian businessman.

Planning officer Julie Birkett said one of the reasons for the delay in determining the application until last week had been difficulty in getting access to the property.

She said: “Work has been done to the building to make alterations without consent and the next step is for us to decide whether it is in the public interest to take further action.”

The planners say enforcement action has already been taken in respect of two gazebos in the grounds and this has not been complied with.

In their submission to the national park authority, agents who made the application for listed building consent said it was “regrettable” that works, which were likely to have required listed building consent, had already been undertaken and some original features lost. They spoke of a “comprehensive vision” for the whole site, reiterating the applicant’s personal commitment to creating, once again, an impressive residence.

Underscar Manor was run as a hotel since the 1970s and for 19 years, until November, 2009, it was owned by Derek and Pauline Harrison and Gordon Evans.

A number of celebrities stayed there and the highlight was a visit from the Queen five years ago. In 2010, permission was granted for a change of use from a hotel to a single dwelling.

The listed building planning application was in the name of the Santakoff Trust. A notice at the property now gives brief details of a firm of London solicitors.

Miss Birkett told the Herald that efforts would now be made to contact the owner of Underscar in order to advise of the current planning position.