PLANS to restore a Tudor landmark have received a boost after two heritage groups offered to support a campaign to save Wymering Manor.
Both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have said they believe the building’s refurbishment should be a priority for the city.
English Heritage has agreed to add the deteriorating historic landmark to its ‘at risk’ list, and confirm it as its ‘number one priority’ Portsmouth building.
And representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund have told Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt plans she has developed with local campaigners would be something they could look to fund.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘They were enthusiastic. It means the ball’s really in ours and Portsmouth City Council’s court now. We have been told there’s an 80 per cent acceptance rate for schemes like ours.’
The manor, in Old Wymering Road, was built in 1581, and last used in 2006, when it was a youth hostel.
It has repeatedly been offered for sale by the council, but has failed toeoey reach its £350,000 minimum price – in part because of woodworm and water damage.
But Ms Mordaunt and local conservationists believe it could be turned into community centre, with its ground floor used for events and room hire. Under the plans, its upper floors would become a boutique hotel.
And three times a year, the house could play on its reputation as ‘the most haunted house in Britain’ by opening for ghost hunts and tours.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It wouldn’t be cheap, but we believe it would bring in money. We would be looking for approximately £750,000 from Heritage Lottery, and we’d use money to chase other funding, too. The application process would take 18 months, and I am sure if the council can sell the building before then it will, but at worst this is a very good plan B.’
Tom Southall, the council’s head of property, said: ‘Wymering Manor is important to Portsmouth’s heritage and we’ll do whatever we can to preserve it. The options available are limited, but we’re looking again at options that will help prevent deterioration.’