HC Deb 18 February 1988 vol 127 c720W
Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what conditions were attached to the sale of Heveningham hall; if these have been complied with; what information he has as to how often Heveningham hall has been open to the public since July 1981; and if he will make a repair order on Heveningham hall.

Mrs. Roe

The following three conditions were attached to the conveyance of Heveningham hall to permit public access to the principal rooms and to the gardens on at least 30 days each year unless prevented by circumstance outside the owner's control; to complete within five years the restoration of the orangery; and to use best endeavours to complete a tree planting scheme recommended by Dame Sylvia Crowe in 1975. In addition, the owner entered into a hiring agreement whereby certain items of furniture in the house which remained in the Secretary of State's ownership were to be hired to him for a nominal rent, subject to conditions relating to their care.

Restoration of the orangery was completed in 1985, but the tree planting scheme remains to be done. Most of the furniture covered by the hiring agreement is currently in store, under the custody of English Heritage. Precise records of opening times are not available, but I understand that the position has been as follows:

  • 1982 house and gardens open for 30 days
  • 1983 gardens only open, because of building work
  • 1984–6 house open by appointment only to bona fide visitors, again because of building work.
  • 1987 house and gardens open throughout August

Despite the regrettable delay, my right hon. Friend has no reason on present information to doubt the owner's intention to complete the outstanding repairs. Should there be serious doubts about this we would have to consider serving a repairs notice.