Derbyshire council to move Elvaston Castle into charitable trust

Elvaston Castle and Country Park could be about to enter a new era under the guidance of a new charitable trust.

Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Image: John Bennett, used under Creative Commons
Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Image: John Bennett, used under Creative Commons

The estate is currently owned and managed by Derbyshire County Council, at a cost of around £900,000 per year.

Derbyshire's cabinet members will be asked next week to approve plans to set up a trust to run the estate in the future. At the meeting on 26 July they will also be asked to consider proposals for the redevelopment of the 19th-century castle and grounds.

External consultants commissioned by the National Trust on behalf of the Elvaston Development Board looked at work that had already been done on the estate. They came up with suggestions for how it could be redeveloped further over a 10-year period to attract more visitors, including:

Phase 1 − Turning the outer courtyard area into a visitor hub to provide a central focus, potentially including a new café area, shops, adventure playground and education centre, with new access road and car park

Phase 2 − Restoration of the park and historic gardens

Phase 3 − Refurbishment of the castle and courtyard for use for weddings and other functions and holiday accommodation.

If the report is approved next week, the council will look at potential funding for any future developments in addition to the new measures already agreed. Earlier this year the council announced plans to invest around £1m in the estate to make it more commercially viable before handing it over to the trust.

Other planned improvements include creating better access to the nursery garden and repairs to the unstable historic garden walls as the backdrop to the outdoor wedding venue, repairs to drainage on the former caravan site, and setting up a garden maintenance and management plan for the grounds.

Derbyshire's cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, Councillor Dean Collins, said: "This could be the start of a really exciting future for Elvaston. If plans to appoint the charitable trust are approved we'll be recruiting in the autumn and looking for people with the right skills, experience, imagination and enthusiasm to make it a more appealing place to visit and bring in new visitors from far and wide."

He added: "It's early days and these proposals give us a starting point to look at what we could potentially do subject to public consultation and planning permission.

"None of it is set in stone. But with the county council facing financial pressures and an annual bill of £900,000 a year to maintain and run the estate, it's clear that substantial redevelopment is needed to turn around the fortunes of the castle and park and attract more visitors and bring in money to help pay for its upkeep."

Image of Elvaston Castle: By John Bennett from Derbyshire, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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