'Enormous breakthrough' over future of Elvaston Castle
ALL parties interested in taking over Elvaston Castle and Country Park are to be brought together in the hope of securing a "compelling vision" for the estate.
Derbyshire County Council has been trying to offload the property for more than a decade, saying it cannot afford the park's annual £700,000 running costs and £6.5 million repair bill.
But efforts to hand over the estate to a private developer have repeatedly stalled.
In a report published today, the council's director of property, Jeremy Goacher, concedes a single solution is "no longer likely".
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
As such, he said the council is now set to join forces with the National Trust to work out a way forward.
Mr Goacher said the aim of the partnership would be to bring interested parties from the public, private and voluntary sectors round one table to thrash out a "compelling and palpable vision" for the Elvaston estate.
Once that happens, Mr Goacher said bids to two grant programmes that each offer projects up to £5 million could be submitted as early as next year, to fund whatever vision is developed.
Councillor John Harrison, cabinet member for finance, hailed the pending partnership with the National Trust – which is set to be agreed by cabinet next week – as an "enormous breakthrough".
He said: "The National Trust are experts in managing historic buildings and estates successfully.
"After many years of seeking a viable, long-term solution for Elvaston Castle and Country Park, I believe that working with the National Trust will deliver what the council and local people want – a sustainable, long-term solution.
"We need to find a solution that costs the taxpayer less while still offering free public access to the country park.
"We will be consulting with all interested local groups about how they could be involved in the future."
The National Trust also welcomed the partnership.
Harry Bowell, from the organisation, said: "We're delighted to have the opportunity to work in this new way with Derbyshire County Council so we can share our experience to help them – and other local stakeholders – ensure that the estate can be enjoyed by the public long into the future."
According to a source, the National Trust had previously been interested in taking over the grounds at Elvaston but not the house. It is understood the trust pulled out of those negotiations after concluding the centrepiece of the estate was the house itself.
However, the trust could still form part of whatever new vision is agreed.
Other parties set to be heavily involved are the Friends of Elvaston Castle and Social Enterprise East Midlands.
In December, the two groups announced they planned to establish a social enterprise organisation which could run the estate, with any profits being ploughed back into the building and its grounds.