New vision for Esquimalt’s English Inn adds housing, keeps historic manor

New housing, care homes, assisted living facilities and tourist accommodation are part of a redevelopment proposal for the English Inn and Resort, which would also keep its historic manor.

The plan calls for the 4.5-acre Esquimalt site to be divided into two parcels that could then be sold. It also calls for demolition of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, once a tourist attraction that was part of an old English-style village.

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“Since the 1970s, it has become increasingly evident that the existing use of the property is not economically viable. For this reason, the property and the buildings continue to deteriorate,” says the application to Esquimalt by owner LFC Lampson Holdings Inc.

The application calls for keeping Rosemead manor, at 429 Lampson St., along with its gardens on a 1.5-acre lot with mature trees. The manor, built in 1909, was designed in a Tudor-revival style by renowned architect Samuel Maclure.

Only Rosemead, marketed as the English Inn, is open.

The inn, with 14 guest rooms, is used primarily for weddings, about four months of the year. The complex has struggled in recent years, with the Lanyard Group of Companies of Vancouver buying it out of receivership in late 2011.

New regulations and guidelines that would be set out in a heritage revitalization agreement between the owner and the municipality would govern future building on the two sites.

If the plan is approved, additional uses would be allowed on each property. Currently, the site is limited to tourist accommodation.

The larger of the two properties could have townhouses in addition to single- and multi-family homes. Maximum site coverage — where buildings could go up — would be 50 per cent.

New construction would be consistent with the manor house and have pitched rooflines, the proposed agreement says.

The top height allowed on each property would be six storeys, said Michael Dillistone, consultant to LFC Lampson Holdings, which is managed by Lanyard Group.

If the proposal is approved by Esquimalt council, both parcels would be put on the market, with the larger site likely to be developed in stages, Dillistone said. The hope is that Rosemead would be used as a boutique hotel.

Other buildings are closed. Four buildings — including the cottage, deemed uninhabitable — would come down, Dillistone said. The other three structures, which have hotel rooms, have been closed since December.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said that while citizen input and feedback from municipal committees are still to come, the concept is “win-win.” Rosemead is a gem in Esquimalt, she said.

“We don’t want to lose that.”

Local architect Paul Merrick and Vancouver’s Donald Luxton and Associates are working on the proposal.

“This is a class act,” Desjardins said. “They are really looking to be very sensitive to the heritage.”

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