Lancaster councillors voice concerns over future of boarded up historic house
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“The house and surrounding land was gifted to the city by Lord Ashton along with Williamson Park and Ashton Hall.
"Lord Ashton alongside the Storey Brothers brought great prosperity and jobs to Lancaster for most of the 20th century.
“Unfortunately the city council has not proved to be a good custodian and the city now faces a large renovation bill.
“Even worse there are a number of other city council owned properties that appear to have been poorly maintained.
"It is the very history of our city that is under threat.
“The NHS services previously located in Ryelands House have moved out as the building is no longer fit for purpose.”
The councillors said the challenge for the leadership and cabinet is twofold.
They said: “Firstly they must find the money to renovate and conserve this listed building and secondly they must find a use for the building that both reflects its heritage and secures the future of the historic building.
“As local councillors we recognise the difficult financial state of local government after over ten years of successive cuts by the current Government.
"Nevertheless the city council has an obligation to protect our heritage and ensure that Ryelands House really does become an asset for the city.
“Since the building was built by the entrepreneurial efforts of Lord Ashton from profits of his business (Williamsons) perhaps a modern entrepreneur may be invited to use it for a prestigious office location, with community facilities created nearby for changing.
“Another alternative would be to enable the building to become an “Environmental Centre” for one of our local universities.
“Whatever the outcome it is a challenge that may test the cabinet to the ultimate.
"I can assure local residents that your local councillors will hold the cabinet's feet to the fire to get a positive long term future for this great historical building.”