But the land off Ankle Hill is now at the center of anger from local residents who say they have had to put up with the noise and disruption to their lives from construction work that has been going on for years with dozens of new homes underway of construction and no apparent sign of the development being completed.
The owners say they were initially happy with plans to build modern homes and convert the old lodge, which had been derelict since 2002 when the NHS stopped using it as a War Memorial hospital, and with the prospect of the site being tidy after becoming overgrown. .
But they have grown increasingly frustrated over the past six years with work starting at 7.30am every weekday and some Saturdays, mud on the road from factory vehicles and trucks accessing development and the bonfires lit to burn the wrappings from the pallets and bricks.
Developer Sowden Homes says it sympathizes with residents and attributes the delays in work to the complex nature of the land and the pandemic, which has led to labor and material shortages for the past two years.
Bob White, who has lived in Ankle Hill for more than 40 years with his wife Jane, told the Melton Times: “It has ruined our quality of life and we’ve had enough of it now.
“It’s been going on for years, with all the noise and dirt we have to put up with.
“It’s especially bad for those who have retired because there’s no escaping it during the day.
“Everything seems to take so much longer on this site when you see how quickly properties are being built on other developments on Leicester Road and Nottingham Road in the city.”
He added: “The site had become a bit overgrown after the hospital closed, so we weren’t too unhappy with the planning request, but we didn’t expect this site to be forever. right here right now.”
The owners say they have complained regularly to builders about the situation in the so-called Wyndham Grange development, managing to stop work from 6 a.m. and lighting bonfires, which caused smoke to billow around their properties.
Bob’s wife, Jane, said: “We used to have some lovely trees in front of us, but they’re all gone now and people liked to walk their dogs on the land before the building work started.
“The bonfires were terrible, some of our neighbors were coming out just to avoid them.”
Jane Flint, who moved to Ankle Hill in 2018, and Linda Croft said they were also unhappy with the continued disruption to their lives caused by the building site opposite them.
Residents are also concerned about a listed perimeter wall which has been demolished at the site – they have been assured it will be rebuilt as part of the new development, although some of the bricks were apparently used in the conversion of the lodge .
The centerpiece of the site is the old hunting lodge, which has stood on the site since 1760 – it was renamed Wynham Lodge in 1840 by the Governor of the Tower
from London, Colonel Charles Wyndham, who settled there to satisfy his passion for fox hunting.
Thirty years ago, it was bought by a certain William Chaplin, who had it entirely remodeled in local stone.
Colonel Richard Dalgleish bought it in 1920 and donated the historic property to the town of Melton for the health of the residents – It was named War Memorial Hospital in honor of the dead of the Great War and was used permanently as a hospital until it was abandoned 20 years ago.
Leicester-based property developers Sowden Homes have secured planning permission for a mix of properties with some of them in the converted old lodge, which involved a major restoration project involving the replacement of all timber as well as the installation of a new central staircase, floors and windows.
Landscaping is also planned there with five acres of common woods leading to the River Eye.
Responding to concerns raised by people living opposite the development about the time needed to build the properties, Tim Shattock, of Sowden Homes, told the Melton Times: “First of all, Wyndham Grange is a very complicated site.
“The levels are very difficult and the ground conditions are terrible in winter.
“In addition, as a planning condition, we must rebuild two decaying listed buildings – comprising nine apartments and eight townhouses – to modern standards before a number of houses can be sold. These buildings had been left to the elements for many years.
“We sympathize with the residents, but in an urban development it is never easy or simple and I hope we leave the area much better than it was when we started with all the anti-social behavior happening and two rotting listed buildings.
Mr Shattock said work should be complete at the site by this time next year.
Explaining in detail how the development took shape and the unforeseen challenges it faced, he added: “The first house was sold in April 2018 and since then including the two years we have had in a pandemic with personnel and material problems, another 38 were built, sold and are now occupied.
“Eight more are nearing completion, six of which will be occupied by mid-April this year.
“Locals of Ankle Hill will have noticed that we have now almost reached the upper end of Ankle Hill after starting from below – the estate road joins Ankle Hill at the top and bottom.
“There are 14 more properties to be built, all of which will be completed within the next 12 months.
“These properties are a mix of bungalows, townhouses and townhouses and are planned on the site of a formerly approved four-storey gated block of flats – which would have towered over the listed buildings.
“It took over two years to get planning permission and the pandemic played a huge role in that. We are almost there I hope.
“Between April 2018 and April 2022, we will have occupied 61 units, well over one each month.”