Hestercombe House future secured with Hestercombe Gardens Trust transfer
Control of Hestercombe House is to be transferred to the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, Somerset County Council has confirmed today.
The council said the community asset transfer would save the council tax payer £2 million in maintenance costs and a further £200,000 per year in running costs.
Cabinet member for resources, David Huxtable, said: “This is great news for Hestercombe House and the council tax payer.
“We looked at several options when considering the future of Hestercombe House that would relieve the financial burden of running such a property on the tax payer, whilst also ensuring the heritage of this beautiful house is protected and enhanced.
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“The Hestercombe Gardens Trust has a wealth of expertise regarding everything ‘Hestercombe’ and was the natural choice to take responsibility for the house as well as the gardens.”
The Grade II listed building, owned by the council, was used as a fire brigade headquarters until 2006. Since then, it has been used to store council and youth service equipment.
Under the new agreement, the council said Hestercombe House will be used as a venue "for the education and benefit of the public" and the building will be "preserved, restored and enhanced".
Chief Executive of Hestercombe Gardens Trust, Phillip White MBE, said: “Now that Hestercombe House is going to be handed over by Somerset County Council, we are delighted that the Guildhall School of Music and Drama will be establishing a regional centre of excellence there that will bring expert musical training to children up to the age of 18, drawn from all over the South West.
“We were keen to find a role for the house that is sympathetic to its situation and at the same time, strengthen its links with the local community.”