£2m boost for Highbury Estate restoration project

The project to restore the historic Highbury Estate has received a £2m boost.

Birmingham City Council cabinet bosses this week agreed to provide the sum as match-funding for any successful grant bids.

It is hoped the move will help secure a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) later this year following two failed attempts which have cast the refurbishment project into doubt.

The city council is the sole trustee of Highbury Estate in Moseley, including the Grade II* listed Highbury Hall – the former home of one-time city Mayor Joseph Chamberlain.

Earlier this year the council agreed to lease it to the Chamberlain Highbury Trust to manage and maintain for 125 years.

But finalisation of the deal largely depends on the success of the next bid to HLF with the trust admitting it could walk away if it is rejected for a third time.

Highbury Hall and estate in Moseley is in need of extensive renovation.

Council leader Ian Ward said: “The Chamberlain Highbury Trust aims to make Highbury Hall and Joseph Chamberlain’s legacy relevant to future generations and we are keen to do everything we can to ensure the hall is restored and improved for citizens and visitors to enjoy both now and for many years to come.

“This proposal would offer the trust the support of significant match funding, enabling them to bid for much larger overall sums of money that will enable this aim to be met.”

Last year Highbury Estate cost the council £243,000 due to minor repairs, energy bills, security and business rates.

That was despite rental income from Civic Catering which hosts weddings and functions at the venue.

A business plan is being drawn up to make Highbury self-sustainable.

If Chamberlain Highbury Trust walked away the council would be left with having to pick up the full cost of restoration.

It is currently estimated at £5.6m but it is likely the project would have to be scaled down.

That would come at a time when the council is facing £120m worth of cuts between now and 2021/22.

Earlier this year the authority spent £500,000 on essential repairs to the roof as well as to address asbestos issues which had restricted access to some areas.


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