PLANS for alterations at Howsham Hall have been refused despite pleas by neighbours to desperate to see a historic Grade I listed building saved for the future.

An application to convert part of Howsham Hall into a three bedroom home has been refused by Ryedale District Council’s planning committee.

The proposals would have seen the former servants’ quarters in an annex made into a self contained three-bedroom home, to be used as a Dower House for the 400-year-old hall.

Councillors refused the application at a meeting on Tuesday, June 2 after planning officials said planned alterations inside the annex would destroy too much of the building’s history.

Howsham resident James Stephenson was at the meeting to represent the village.

He said: “In 1956 Howsham Hall almost became one of the lost country houses of Yorkshire.

“We feel we have at last got somebody prepared to take on Howsham Hall as a home.”

Prospective buyer Max Hilliard offers the hall chance to be used as a family home once again, Mr Stephenson said.

“We feel we are blooming lucky to have a purchaser, and that wants to be encouraged,” he added.

Howsham Hall housed a school from the late 1950s until 2007 when the building was bought by a development company and substantially renovated. It has been on the market and unoccupied for four years, the meeting heard.

But RDC’s own Buildings Conservation Officer, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, English Heritage and the Georgian Group all objected to plans to remove internal walls in the annex, saying it would damage the character of the building.

Head of Planning and Housing Gary Housden said: “We all want to see the building occupied but it cannot be at any cost.”

Bob Marks of Bench Mark Developments - the company behind the scheme - said he had no comment to make after the decision.