THE FUTURE of a Georgian mansion in Dursley has been secured as a popular arts centre.

Stroud District Councillors have agreed a new seven year lease for Kingshill House in Dursley.

The grade II*-listed mansion has operated as an arts centre providing classes and workshops for the community over the last 20 years.

The building in Kingshill Lane had previously been used as offices by Stroud District Council but now also offers room hire for general use and social events.

It has been run by charity Kingshill House Ltd which has a 25-year full repairing and insuring lease and pays £5 a year in rent to the authority.

Their lease is due to expire in October 2024.

But district councillors have agreed to a seven year extension.

Kingshill House has continued to operate thanks to support Stroud District Council has given it, property manager Jill Fallows told last night’s (November 23) strategy and resources committee meeting.

“It has revised its business plan,” she said.

“It had a successful summer, continues to run a busy and varied programme of events and will have a surplus cash flow by the end of the year.

“It now has more volunteers and has strengthened the trustee body and overall it’s in a good position. They are very appreciative of the help and support.

She explained that the charity cannot take responsibility for all repairs under the new lease. But has agreed to carry out routine repairs and maintenance.

As it doesn’t have the resources or expertise to maintain the building in its entirety, the council will take on responsibility for the roof and structure of the building.

They have agreed to set aside £100,000 in capital budget to spend on priority works and investigations to continue to protect the fabric of the building.

Another £50,000 will be set aside each year for ongoing maintenance.

During the meeting, Councillor Keith Pearson (C, Painswick and Upton) raised concerns the authority was committing to possibly spending more than £500,000 over the lease period for a peppercorn rent.

“I would just ask whether in this day an age that makes sense, for this or any other council, given the financial situation of local authority.

“I find that is something I can’t live with. Rather than vote against this I will abstain. I don’t believe that makes sense whatsoever in any shape or form.

“We are all in hard times and it seems to me this could go on forever.”

Councillor Mattie Ross (Independent Left, Stonehouse) said what people can do to pull things around with “a bit of support” after Covid.

“What a ghastly time all these places had. I often think that this is a bit of jewel in our crown really. It’s a delightful venue.

“There’s so much going on there. It’s more than a community and arts centre. People go there for a feel good factor.”

She said she is fully in support of the proposals and the council is taking the right view with a seven year lease.

Councillor Stephen Davies (C, Severn) said if the council doesn’t make the decision the property would return to them and they would incur all the costs of the listed building and it would not produce a benefit.

“Worst still, we’d have to run it,” he said.

“I’m not a great fan of us running everything. I do it reluctantly. I do it understanding it’s a little bit ‘gun to the head’.”

Councillor Steve Robinson (L, Nailsworth) said he was concerned about spending the £100,000 but “understands it is a better trustee set up there”. He said: “I would hope they will be able to turn it around and eventually it will pay for itself.

“I will be supporting it but I’m a little bit concerned about the cost implications.”

Council leader Catherine Braun (G, Wotton-under-Edge) said she was really pleased to propose the motion.

She has had really frank conversations with the chair of trustees over their work developing an effective programme.

Kingshill House reaches across the whole south of the district, she told the committee.

“It’s an incredible grade-II* listed building which I feel we are privileged to have in our property portfolio and we do have this duty of care to maintain it,” she said.

“£50,000 a year for such a large property that is delivering a huge amount of value to the local community is a significant expense but it could be a lot greater if the trust were not delivering their own annual maintenance.

She said £100,000 in the budget would only be spent if needed for the large repairs.

Councillors voted to approve the proposals.