Highbury College students could help to restore Wymering Manor

HELPING OUT From left, Deane Clark, Celia Clark, Cllr Rob Wood, with Paul Whittle a director of Highbury College, Paul Sevier and his wife Suzie.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (121172-9227)
HELPING OUT From left, Deane Clark, Celia Clark, Cllr Rob Wood, with Paul Whittle a director of Highbury College, Paul Sevier and his wife Suzie. Picture: Malcolm Wells (121172-9227)
Newbridge Junior School Picture: Maria Bujor

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STUDENTS could help restore Portsmouth’s oldest house under new plans being considered for renovating the Tudor landmark.

A consultation on the future of Wymering Manor, in Old Wymering Lane, was held and described as ‘fantastically successful’ by organisers.

As the results are being compiled, discussions are taking place involving Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, Highbury College and campaigners to try to set up a trust to take over the running of the house.

This could lead to college students, who are training in construction and trade crafts, helping restore the dilapidated building or receiving training and education in it when the work is completed.

Other options for the future of the manor include converting it for residential use such as a bed and breakfast, boutique hotel, hostel or serviced apartments or for community use such as a cafe, library or nursery.

‘It was a fantastically successful session,’ said Celia Clark, chairwoman of Wymering Manor Steering Group.

‘More than 200 people took part and they took a lot of care in filling out the forms.

‘And we have had discussions with Highbury College about the possibility of them helping to form a trust and taking over the manor, which is very exciting.’

In December, Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said that if a new body could be formed in six months to take the manor on with viable new uses set out in a business plan, a long lease would be offered – for free.

Director of strategic development at Highbury College Peter Whittle said many options were being considered but that nothing is set in stone yet. He said: ‘We’re delighted to be invited to take a leading role in this.

‘We’re already involved in several projects around the city and we heard that the manor badly needed a new lease of life and thought it was a great opportunity.’

The manor was built in 1581 but has stood empty since 2006 when the Youth Hostels Association moved out.

Despite being repeatedly offered for sale by the council it has failed to reach the minimum price.