Plans to maximise the potential of the historic Himley Hall and park have been given the green light as part of a review of council buildings and land.
Dudley Council’s cabinet voted to approve the new five-year corporate estate strategy, which will look at ways of making better use of local authority assets. Council bosses have been swift to stress that there are no plans to sell the borough’s “jewel in the crown” despite recent speculation.
Reports suggested the hall and parts of the surrounding 180-acre estate could be cashed in by Dudley Council as part of plans to save £5.6 million in the next three years.
But regeneration chief Councillor Ian Kettle said that rather than selling it off, the council would be looking at new ways of using the Grade II listed building to generate income for the authority. It is already a popular venue for weddings and conferences. The new Corporate Estate Strategy will run from now until 2022. As part of it, council bosses will undertake a “wide ranging review” of assets. Councillor Kettle said:
“The new Corporate Estate Strategy is much more than just a cost-cutting exercise. It is true that we will be looking at possible ways of reducing our costs. And it is true that could be achieved by disposing of some of our assets.
“But the review will also look at ways of maximising the potential of our assets. [Himley Hall] is already a very popular venue for weddings and conferences and brings in money for the authority.
“Coupled with its undoubted historical value, for me that very much makes it a jewel in the crown for this authority. We will be looking at ways we can make more use of it, rather than looking to sell it off.”
The Himley estate – once home to the Earls of Dudley - includes the Great Pool, a nine-hole golf course, cafe and car park, set in 180 acres of Capability Brown landscape and woodland with various outbuildings.