Church­man’s legacy turns into qual­ity homes by the Minster

York has a new ‘best ad­dress’ and it’s right next door to the Minster. Sharon Dale goes in search of en­light­en­ment.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE chance to cre­ate new homes in the heart of York is rare and to do it in the shadow of the city’s hal­lowed Minster is al­most un­heard of.

Yet Mike Green made it hap­pen. Walk­ing through Dean’s Park in 2009, he glimpsed the former Nuffield Hos­pi­tal and had a Eureka mo­ment.

“I couldn’t be­lieve that a beau­ti­ful listed build­ing like that had been empty for three years. It was per­fect for res­i­den­tial use,” says Mike, who owns Gem Con­struc­tion Ser­vices.

He made in­quiries and soon found out why it had lan­guished on the mar­ket. The price tag was too high, there was no plan­ning per­mis­sion, lit­tle chance of bank fund­ing and it came with the daunt­ing prospect of pleas­ing ev­ery­one, from English Her­itage to trusts and the Dean of the Minster.

Un­de­terred, he put the word out to ask for pri­vate fund­ing and found three wealthy in­di­vid­u­als who were as en­thu­si­as­tic as he was. They formed YO1 Prop­erty and be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“The site wasn’t vi­able at the price the Nuffield had set and its use was lim­ited be­cause there was a covenant stat­ing ‘no al­co­hol or gam­ing’, so res­i­den­tial was the ob­vi­ous way for­ward,” says Mike.

It took two years to buy but the re­sult is that The Purey Cust is set to be one of the best ad­dresses in the city. It is al­ready at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from all over York­shire and beyond.

Philippa Faith, who is mar­ket­ing the seven town houses, which start from £800,000, and three apart­ments, from £515,000, has had in­quiries from Amer­ica, Bel­gium and Switzer­land.

“We hadn’t even launched them and we had 250 un­so­licited in­quiries. The in­ter­est has been in­cred­i­ble,” she says.

More in­ter­est was aroused when part of the prop­erty was used for the TV se­ries Eter­nal Law. Its hid­den-away lo­ca­tion and his­toric good looks made it per­fect for film­ing.

The site in­cludes a build­ing de­signed by Arts and Crafts ar­chi­tect Wal­ter Bri­er­ley in 1914 and com­mis­sioned by a former Dean of York, Canon Arthur Purey Cust. He was a muchloved man and when he re­tired a col­lec­tion raised enough money for him to fund the Purey Cust Nurs­ing Home on land gifted by the Church that also came with a gothic house.

The hos­pi­tal was de­signed to help the poor but was made re­dun­dant by the NHS. In the late 1960s, the pri­vate Nuffield Hos­pi­tal took a long lease adding operating the­atres at the rear and con­vert­ing the house into con­sult­ing rooms. They moved to a pur­pose-built site in 2006

The grade two listed build­ings were empty for five years un­til Gem Con­struc­tion started on site last au­tumn.

“Get­ting it to that point was stress­ful and we could have pulled out at any point but I knew I’d never get an­other op­por­tu­nity like this. It is an iconic build­ing.

“Luck­ily, the plan­ners were very sup­port­ive as were the Purey Cust Trust, which had the free­hold. We asked them what they wanted us to do and we weren’t greedy. We de­mol­ished the 1980s operating the­atres at the back when we could have used those build­ings for ex­tra footage.

“We also had good re­la­tion­ships with the Civic Trust and the Dean of the Minster,” says Mike, a former brick­layer turned quan­tity sur­veyor who started Gem in 1997 to spe­cialise in con­vert­ing listed build­ings.

The Purey Cust is his big­gest project and has run like clock­work. The first phase is fin­ished and com­ple­tion is ex­pected in March next year.

The orig­i­nal Wal­ter Bri­er­ley build­ing is now split into town houses with a set of three apart­ments at one end. Apart from new doors, the fa­cade is vir­tu­ally un­changed, while inside, the un­fussy Arts and Crafts fea­tures work well with the con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior de­sign.

Purey Cust Cham­bers, the gothic Tu­dor-style house is, by con­trast, rich in elab­o­rate ar­chi­tec­tural de­tail, in­clud­ing ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal arches and his­toric win­dows, and when ren­o­vated it could well be the most ex­quis­ite house in the city.

It’s so good that it has prompted a life change for Mike and his fam­ily, who plan to leave their coun­try home to live there.

“It wasn’t the orig­i­nal plan but the more time I spent here the more I re­alised that this is the best lo­ca­tion in York. It feels like a haven. It is so quiet and peace­ful,” he says.

It cer­tainly is un­til the Minster bells start ring­ing. While many of us love the sound of church bells, Mike is well aware that some peo­ple may not. Prospec­tive buy­ers will be in­formed of peals, car­il­lons and the cathe­dral clock that chimes ev­ery quar­ter hour from 8am to 8pm, with the hour struck on the bour­don bell, Great Peter.

The ben­e­fit is that you’ll al­ways know what time it is. An­other ad­van­tage of liv­ing next door to a me­dieval mas­ter­piece is that you may not need a TV. All the prop­er­ties look out on the Minster and they are about as close as you can get with­out stand­ing next to it.

The view is beau­ti­ful, spir­i­tual and so mes­meric that all you want to do is stare and think of a heav­enly host of ad­jec­tives to de­scribe one of York­shire’s great­est won­ders.

For more de­tails visit www. thep­ur­ey­ or tel 01904 670640.

There is an open view­ing for the first phase of three apart­ments, which start from £515,000, and Stafford House, £975,000, on June 30 and July 1 from 2pm to 4pm.

CEN­TRE OF AT­TRAC­TION: The Purey Cust site is next to York Minster though it is pro­tected by walls that give it seclu­sion from the madding crowds of vis­i­tors to the city’s most fa­mous tourist at­trac­tioon. What was a hos­pi­tal is now seven town houses and three apart­ments.

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