News Walthamstow

Historic mansion to reopen as coworking space

Chestnuts House currently costs the council around £15,000 a year to maintain its “relatively poor state of repair”

Chestnuts House in Hoe Street

After 15 years of being closed to the general public, a Grade II-listed mansion is set to reopen as office spaces for creative businesses.

Chestnuts House in Hoe Street, owned by Waltham Forest Council, was built in the late 18th century and is “regarded as one of the best-surviving and least-altered examples of Georgian domestic architecture” in the borough.

The building, currently on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, has been occupied by property guardians since 2008 and costs the council around £15,000 a year just to maintain its “relatively poor state of repair”.

Because its listed status forbids any dramatic changes to the building, a number of previous ideas for how to use it, including turning it into flats or a “boutique hotel”, have proven impossible.

However, a recent cash injection from the government means the council can afford to refurbish the building enough to rent it out, with creative workspace company Eat Work Art having been shortlisted to take over the lease.

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A report prepared for council leaders reads: “The building comprises several smaller scale rooms, which cannot be ‘opened up’ due its historic significance. This makes it suitable for a creative workspace, where the space can easily be subdivided.

“The proposed refurbishment works are essential to ensure a long-term future for this important heritage building and reduce the council’s ongoing maintenance liabilities.

“The proposed use will provide creative workspace, which will support the local economy, and result in wider community benefits as part of Walthamstow’s Cultural Quarter.”

Refurbishing the building will cost an estimated £1.8million, the majority of which will be paid for using the £17m grant awarded to Walthamstow “cultural quarter” from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.

While it is unclear to what extent the reopened building will encourage visitors who are not renting a workspace, the council insists it will become one of three new “cultural hubs” in Walthamstow, alongside a revamped Vestry House Museum and a new venue in Hatherley Mews.

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