Time running out for plan to keep manor for public

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HOPES that an historic manor house could be kept for public use are fading as city leaders prepare to sell it off.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt believes there is a chance that around £750,000 of lottery cash could be granted to transform Wymering Manor, Portsmouth’s oldest house.

But any application to the Heritage Lottery Fund would take up to 18 months. In the meantime, Portsmouth City Council is trying to sell the site.

The 16th century manor, which has been empty since 2006 when it was a youth hostel, has been up for auction three times in the past six months.

But the house has never reached its £375,000 asking price.

Ms Mordaunt believes the Heritage Lottery Fund might look favourably on a proposal to make the manor a historic hotel on the upper floors, with bedrooms furnished with period pieces.

The ground floor, including dining areas, living space and kitchens, could be open to the public most of the year, and hired out for community functions.

She said: ‘Schemes like this have an 80 per cent success rate with the Heritage Lottery Fund, and it would pay for 95 per cent of the work. The hotel element would bring in money.

‘But a Heritage Lottery bid could take 18 months, and the council wants to sell well before then.’

The council pays for the upkeep and security at the property, which costs around £5,000 per month.

One of its chartered surveyors, Sam Cowley, confirmed it is negotiation with interested parties to buy the manor.

She said: ‘We’ve received a number of proposals for Wymering Manor on a freehold basis.

‘Confidential negotiations with the interested parties are ongoing but we hope to make an announcement soon.’