Vandals destroy deal for future of historic Portsmouth house

FOR SALE Portsmouth City Council has once again failed to sell Wymering Manor
FOR SALE Portsmouth City Council has once again failed to sell Wymering Manor
From left, Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon sign the formal application for a Solent Combined Authority in 2016

Hopes remain £900m deal is not dead – as emails reveal disagreements

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VANDALS have wrecked a deal which would have saved Portsmouth’s oldest house from dereliction.

A family, who asked to remain anonymous, were on the verge of exchanging contracts with Portsmouth City Council to buy Wymering Manor, but pulled out of the deal on the day of exchange after experiencing vandalism first-hand.

They had planned to make the Tudor building their home and convert part of it to a bed and breakfast.

But while making a final visit to the building last week, a youth threw a brick at one of its windows.

Tom Southall, the council’s head of property, said: ‘They were in the house when the young people threw the brick. It was the third time in the past couple of weeks that there had been an incident like this.

‘We’re very disappointed. We understand the decision but it’s not what we wanted and it happened because of the building’s status.’

The potential buyers stepped in earlier this summer, with an offer Mr Southall described as ‘close to its real market value’.

They would have had to spend an estimated £150,000 to restore it, as water damage and woodworm-attacked beams need urgent treatment.

But after the vandalism and consultation with nearby residents, the buyers pulled out of the deal.

Mr Southall said: ‘The building’s situation is what has made this happen.

‘It’s immensely frustrating.

‘The majority of things which have happened are down to no-one living in it, including the gradual deterioration of the building.

‘And of course, if people lived there, you wouldn’t have this stupid stone throwing, which happens because people know it’s empty.

‘Sometimes kids get in over the gate, despite the fact we have a security officer there 24 hours a day.

‘Again, it’s because it’s empty.

‘It wouldn’t happen if people lived there.’

It is likely councillors will consider whether to put the manor back on the market for sale, or attempt to work on its restoration for community use, with a social enterprise partner.

Wymering Manor was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, but the building, which is Grade II listed, has been dated to 1581.

It was a youth hostel until 2006. Since then the council has been trying to sell it.

It attempted to auction the house three times in the past two years, but each time it failed to reach the reserve amount, which dropped from £350,000 to £280,000 at the last auction last winter.