Bring Beckenham mansion back into community use urge campaigners
Campaigners want a historic mansion set in 200 acres of parkland to be transferred from council management to a community trust to bring the buildings back into full use.
The Beckenham Place Park Community Trust is proposing that Lewisham Council hand over the listed buildings in the park as they say they could make better use of them,
Part of the Homesteads building was engulfed by flames in July, which campaigners say was due to poor security.
Chairman of Beckenham Place Park Community Trust, David Hansom, said one of its main aims would be to “rescue from decay” the Georgian mansion and bring it fully back into community use.
The council has owned the mansion, which it operates as a cafe from Wednesday to Sunday, and the Homesteads building, since 1973.
Mr Hansom said: “We want to restore the mansion to its former splendour and revitalise it as a cultural, social and educational centre for the surrounding communities, reaching out to the full diversity of the people of south-east London, with public access on a daily basis.”
Mr Hansom wants the trust to become a non-profit social enterprise working with the council.
“We will develop a balanced and financially sustainable range of community uses, combining environmental and historical education and a visitor centre with community events and celebrations. We could also hold exhibitions and recitals, conferences and training and weddings, all of which would raise an assured annual income.”
Mr Hansom said the council has given a sympathetic response to the transferring of all the listed buildings to the trust.
He added: “The trust has pointed out that, because of its status, it can access funding, notably the Heritage Lottery Fund, for restoration that would be unavailable for a commercial concern or the council. All income to the trust would be used for restoration and maintenance.”
A Lewisham Council spokesman said: “We have received proposals from the trust and one other organisation. We are keen to look at any proposals that can guarantee the mansion for future generations.”
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