Despite hopes that the 1897 birthplace of former Prime Minister Anthony Eden would be saved from neglect, Grade II Listed Windlestone Hall near Bishop Auckland in County Durham, is still derelict.
Windlestone Hall was used as a local authority residential ‘special school’ between 1957 and 2006. In need of £3 million of urgent repairs, the estate and mansion were sold in 2011 by Durham County Council for £241,000 to a buyer who wanted to use the building as a private residence. Despite having received a bid of £1.5 million from a property developer, the Council declared the sale was in the best interests of the property. It was put back on the market three years later with an asking price of £2.56 million.
In 2017, the estate and building were purchased by Carlauren for £850,000. The property developer had designs on restoring the building to bring it back into use, this time as a luxury care home that promised residents a ‘high quality country house hotel experience’.
Investors, or ‘fractional owners’, were attracted from as far afield as the Far East, China, India, Europe and South Africa, as well as a Saudi princess, by the promise of regular income generated by residents’ fees. Carlauren would buy the property and its investors would receive a rent on their investment in individual rooms and suites.
Development at Windlestone Hall was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019, but the monthly payments to investors have ceased while the work has simply stopped. In total, 53 ‘care studios’ were sold at Windlestone Hall, with a value of £8.5 million.
Carlauren has sold other, similar care home or hotel units to its investors in a further 23 properties in the UK. Of those that have been operational, some of the properties have since gone into administration or closed amid ‘cashflow’ problems that Carlauren has said left them ‘no alternative’ but to close the facility, leaving care home residents with just 28 days to find another home.
It is estimated that more than £75 million has now been raised from investors by Carlauren.
Carlauren is an umbrella group of over 20 companies that declared in July that it would be going into administration ‘to protect investors’ and the High Court is due to hear an application to put the group into administration later in October.