Fergus Bell and Daniel Gibson.
Rebecca Wayman

Grade II Durham building gets go-ahead to be transformed into apartments

A historic building in Durham city is to be transformed into 12 luxury apartments, following a major investment from FiftyTwo Group.

52 Old Elvet, a Grade II listed building, is now being converted into one and two-bedroomed apartments by the group - set up by North East entrepreneurs, Fergus Bell and Daniel Gibson.

The flats will offer contemporary facilities, but also retain many of the original features of the house which was built in the early 1700s. Plans for the development have been processing for two years, and got the green light in June 2017.

The creation of the development brings a huge dream of 26-year-old Fergus to fruition, who commented: “I had walked past the building for years and I could see its clear potential. So when the opportunity came to acquire and redevelop it we jumped at the chance.

“With all the investment currently taking place around Durham, there couldn’t be a better time for a high quality, luxury development like this to be taking place in a building with such incredible history.

“We have spent a great deal of time ensuring the apartments will be finished to the highest standards throughout, but at the same time we’ve also made sure that we’ve incorporated as many of the original features as possible.”

The building, formerly the home of the Durham County Club, has seen numerous aristocrats and business leaders entertained there over the years, including Her Majesty the Queen.

The developers have embraced the house’s features, with one of the apartments having an original range as a focal point, while the club’s former dining room will become a kitchen and living room.

The ambitious £1.5m scheme is one of a number now becoming part of the FiftyTwo Group’s fast-growing portfolio, with Fergus and Daniel looking at a number of other projects.

Both former professional sportsmen, the pair have worked independently on a range of property-related initiatives before joining forces to form the FiftyTwo Group.

Gibson said: “We believe 52 Old Elvet will have massive appeal, not just because of its fantastic location but because of it offering something that few developments can – modern living in a truly unique setting.”

The group has engaged the services of Durham-based Howarth Litchfield architectural and interior design practice to develop the scheme, thanks to their experience in dealing with the challenges facing converting listed buildings.

Jonathan Yates, managing director at Howarth Litchfield, added: “This is a wonderful Grade II listed building, which is more than 200 years old.

“The building contains some fine examples of door architraves, ceiling friezes, ceiling roses and a magnificent grand staircase, all of which will be retained.

“We have worked closely with Durham County Council’s conservation officers to ensure that the amount of alterations to the building and its fabric are kept to a minimum and those that are required, are sympathetic to its history.”

The group aims to have the building completed by March 2018.

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