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Oldway Mansion to be run by charitable trust

Photo: Chris Robson

Paignton's historic Oldway Mansion could be taken out of the council's hands and opened for community use.

The 19th century mansion, which was built in the style of the Palace of Versailles, is owned by Torbay Council which is paying to maintain it.

There had been rumours of private developers trying to buy the building in recent years, which was met with protests from the local community.

Now Chris Robson, Conservative Chairman of the Oldway Working Party, has confirmed that the first steps have been taken towards setting up a charity that will enable the community to take over Oldway Mansion.

The new Charitable Trust will initially work in partnership with the Council to make joint grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

These grants will help pay for the immediate repairs and renovations that will enable the Trust to open the mansion for business.

Last year the Working Party's Consultants, David Clarke Associates worked with the Business community, the public and the Friends of Oldway, to produce a viable business plan that showed that the mansion could be self-sustaining.

Cllr Robson said: “Over recent months the Oldway Working Party has worked closely with the Friends of Oldway and the wider community to secure a new future for Oldway.

"I am delighted to report that we now have the support of the Mayor, the Chief Executive, the majority Conservative group leadership, and members of the various other parties, to form a new community-led Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), or Trust for Oldway.

"An agreement will now be drafted to set out how the Trust and Council will work in partnership to seek funding for repairs and restoration and, to maximise the chances of success, the agreement will also stipulate the conditions that need to be met to enable the mansion to transfer to the control of the CIO.

"As it is in everyone’s interests for this venture to succeed, these will include the satisfactory completion of building works and that the mansion is ready to be financially self-supporting.

"This is a major breakthrough in our work to secure a future for Oldway.

"People are ready to talk and we have a clear plan to deliver this for the community.

"The new Trust can be set up relatively quickly and from the outset will be able to do things that the Council can’t, for example recruit volunteers, fund raise, and organise events.

"It will also be in a strong position to influence Council decisions on Oldway in the lead up to the community taking charge.

"I can also announce that the mansion will be open to the public on the weekend of the 6th and 7th April 2019 to formally launch the new Trust. "Exhibits from the “Paignton Heritage Society” and the “Friends of Oldway” will be on show as well as guided tours of the principle rooms and grand staircase. Further events are also in the pipeline for this summer.”

To volunteer for the open days contact David Watts at the Paignton Heritage Society on 01803 523434 or dwdw.cw@blueyonder.co.uk.

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