A TOWN’s only Grade I Listed building, described as the ‘jewel in its crown’ is on the brink of a £2m transformation paid for by luxury housing in its grounds to create a Wynyard-style estate.

Acklam Hall in Middlesbrough is poised to be turned into a wedding venue with small spa compared to the deluxe Champneys health farm, gym, conference rooms and a restaurant which makes the most of the Restoration mansion’s features.

In its grounds Taylor Wimpey is set to build 56 four and five bedroomed luxury homes and developers Acklam Hall Ltd, which owns the hall itself, is envisaging a GP surgery with a residential nursing home also on site.

At a public meeting this week chaired by elected mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon, around 100 local residents turned out to find out more about ambitious plans for the historic empty building which have, so far, failed to materialise.

A planning application was submitted in May 2012 and although approved by Middlesbrough Council, English Heritage demanded modifications which are now going back for consideration.

“In my view this is the jewel in the crown of Middlesbrough, it’s the only Grade I Listed building that we have and its a really important,” said Mr Mallon.

“We have, in my view, the right scheme and the cash is there - it just needs to move forward. We do not want English Heritage derailing this and they could. If it goes to a public inquiry the situation is we would have another 12 month delay.”

Despite concerns raised by locals over issues including increased traffic, colour of roof slates and access to the hall’s grounds, the audience assembled in nearby Outwood Academy, Acklam, on Thursday night was overwhelmingly in favour of the scheme.

Proposals will be submitted to English Heritage next week meanwhile they are expected to be rubberstamped at a special Middlesbrough Council planning meeting the week of April 14.

Built by William Hustler in 1678, Acklam Hall has been in public ownership since 1935 and used as a grammar school, Kings Manor comprehensive school and latterly by Middlesbrough College.

Neil Whittingham of Acklam Hall Ltd added: “The vision for Acklam Hall would create a unique flagship development in Middlesbrough.”