The long-running saga of one of the fate of Harrogate’s grandest old mansions has taken another twist with new concerns by neighbours about security on the site at the Duchy estate.
But the current owner of the 40-room Pineheath, which was once owned by shipping magnate Sir Dhunjibhoy and his wife Lady Bomanji, says he has taken steps to ensure the safety of the property and claims of trouble have been blown out of proportion.
Millionaire Jason Shaw, who originally bought the mansion in 2013, said: “I visited the site with the police recently and I saw no homeless people sleeping rough there or bottles or drugs.
“To my knowledge there have only been three police incidents there in 13 months.
“Where a window was broken I have boarded it up but I don’t think it will help to make it look like a derelict site.”
In recent weeks, residents have made both North Yorkshire Police and Harrogate Borough Council aware of their concerns about the state of the property on Cornwall Road.
Rebecca Oliver of the Duchy Residents Association said: “Action needs to be taken to prevent Pineheath deteriorating further.
“We are particularly concerned that young people have been allowed to get onto the site with insufficient security or fencing, And there is no sign of CCTV being installed.
“We believe the site is dangerous. Who takes responsibility if there is a fatality or very bad injury?”
North Yorkshire Police confirmed this week that they had been to the Pineheath site.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “Police advised Mr Shaw to make sure windows are locked and secure, what signage he should put up and offered him extensive crime prevention advice.
“When the local PCSO visited the site recently, he noted that the security had much improved.”
The council’s planning department also confirmed it had discussed the matter of security with the owner.
Previously Mr Shaw, who paid £2 million for Pineheath which had stood untouched for decades, was fined £24,000 by a court for illegally chopping down 13 trees on the site.
In 2015 previous plans by Mr Shaw to build two luxury homes in the grounds of Pineheath were refused three times by Harrogate Borough Council.
The Duchy Residents Association, which has around 100 local households among its members, says it fears the mansion, whose historic interiors are frozen in time with luxury 1920s furniture, may eventually be simply demolished.
Mr Shaw says he will reveal “positive news” about the site’s future development shortly.
In October of last year Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee gave its approval, subject to conditions, to two plans submitted by Mr Shaw.
One of them was for Pineheath and included the erection of two storey extensions, the conversion of a garage into new accomodation, a new tennis court and more.