Former Staffordshire swingers club to be torn down for housing development

A former swingers’ club in rural Staffordshire that was torched by arsonists is set to be bulldozed to make way for a housing development.

Wheaton Aston Old Hall
Wheaton Aston Old Hall

The 18th century Wheaton Aston Old Hall became notorious in recent times for housing the Utopia adult club, which closed in 2007.

The Watling Street building has been vacant for several years and was damaged by fire in 2018.

Now it is due to be pulled down after South Staffordshire Council’s planning committee approved plans for its demolition and the erection of nine new homes on the site.

A report to the committee said: “The site has a varied planning history with a burst of applications in the 1970s proposing to change it to one of a wide variety of uses.

“It is unclear whether any of these were implemented, however an application in 1995 was approved to change the building to a health and relaxation facility. This appears to have been the last implemented use.”

Committee members voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the latest plans for two and three bedroom houses on the site at Ivetsey Bank.

A heritage statement submitted as part of the application said: “The former hall was partially extended and converted into a country club circa 1970s. Then it was purchased by the previous owners who converted the property into an adults-only club, later being the ‘Utopia’ adults club that ceased operating in 2007.

“The premises were shut down and secured. Unfortunately due the buildings’ use, it attracted numerous inquisitive visitors and the site has been subjected to numerous break-ins.

“A number of the intruders have taken videos and images of the buildings’ interior, which had been left fully intact, and posted these online. As such, the site has claimed national notoriety for its previous use and, even today, website searches for A5 and Wheaton Aston will provide numerous links to national newspaper articles featuring the property.

“The existing hall is in such a state of deteriorate that no developer could be expected to spend such significant sums striving to safeguard a non-listed building. It has been identified that all internal floors, in addition to the roof, will need replacing as well.

“It must be remembered that the previous use of the building (and) its notoriety that is well documented on the internet will have a significant impact on sales prices within any converted structures. As such it is unrealistic, and unviable to expect an applicant to spend significant sums on restoring the un-listed building only for the stigma of its recent history to affect potential sale prices.

“The proposals create a scheme that clearly relate to the site’s older, more distinguished history, include designs that clearly relate to the scale and appearance of the original elements of the Old Hall and retain the focal point of the sites’ setting close to the A5 carriageway.”

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