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The community supports the formation of the Archbishops Palace Conservation Trust

Discussion in 'Otford Palace' started by Archbishops Palace Trust, Jan 28, 2017. Replies: 2 | Views: 1170

  1. On Saturday 21st January 2017, a packed village hall in Otford gave a unanimous vote of confidence to a new village community trust being set up to represent them in discussions about their Archbishop’s Palace.

    The ‘Palace’ is today visible as that lonely tower and gatehouse that stands in the field as you approach the pond at Otford. Not a lot to get excited about you’d think, but it has been an iconic landmark in Otford for over 500 years and the Villagers feel strongly about it. The building and its field have been owned by Sevenoaks District Council since the 1930s. There were extensive repairs in the 1960’s. But over the last 50 years, it has been allowed to fall into a dangerous state of disrepair. Only persistent pressure by the community has finally seen professional conservation work carried out in the last 12 months. Now Sevenoaks need to decide what is best to do with their property. So they have commissioned an independent company to carry out an Options Appraisal. Should it be left as it is? Developed as a private home? Turned into offices? or passed back to the community? Whatever the outcome, they say, it must be able to pay for itself in the future. Well, Saturday proved the residents of Otford have some very clear opinions on it.

    They want the site to benefit their community as well as become a springboard to the discovery of the whole Darent Valley. Today, this beautiful valley on our doorstep is incredibly vulnerable, being so close to the expanding Metropolis and all its pressures. The Darent Landscape Partnership, run by the AONB, and of which the Palace forms a part, are intrinsically linked with its future. In the meeting, the Trust read from their own vision for the site:

    To regenerate a fresh awareness of this heritage landmark by restoring it to a heritage building and developing it into a hub of education, discovery and information about the Palace, the Tudors and the Darent Valley. Then they outlined their hopes and plans for the future.

    The audience shared their aspirations to turn this lonely, un-loved site into a major heritage asset for the region – a beacon for the village as well as the valley of the Darent. As we were told; Heritage regeneration invariably reinforces a sense of community and can have a ripple-effect on the surrounding neighbourhoods. So we can but hope.

    If you would like to be kept in touch with the project to conserve the Archbishop's Palace, please contact Nick Rushby at secretary@otfordpalace.org.
  2. If you want to know more about the plans being developed by the Archbishop's Palace Conservation Trust then you will be interested in the display that is currently in the Otford Library. The aim of the Trust is to promote the development of this significant historical building as an interpretation centre and focal point for the Darent Valley community.

    To join the APCT mailing list, please contact Nick Rushby: secretary@otfordpalace.org

    Also a reminder that Otford Village Fete on Monday 29th May 2017 will be a celebration of 500 years of Otford Palace. The Fete will be opened by Alison Weir, the well known historian and author of a series of books on the lives Six Tudor Queens.
  3. Archbishop's Palace Conservation Trust - www.otfordpalace.org

    You will recall that the Council wishes to find a secure and self-sustaining future for the Archbishop's Palace in Otford and has commissioned a firm of architects, Thomas Ford and Partners, to carry out an Options Appraisal which will look at the various alternatives for the future of the Palace. The final report, which was due in June this year, has been delayed but is likely to look at a range of possibilities - from turning it into residential dwellings to some form of community asset.

    The Archbishop's Palace Conservation Trust (Charity registration number 1173486) has been set up with the aim of acquiring the Palace site and buildings, and creating a visitor centre that will not only present the history of the Palace and its Tudor history, but also act as an interpretation centre and springboard for the Darent Valley. We believe that this would be the best use of this iconic monument.

    The Trustees have carefully investigated the practicality of our proposal and have prepared a detailed, costed business plan that sets out our objectives, a timescale and the potential funding sources. It will be a major project and the costs will exceed £1.5M over several years. We have submitted our outline proposal to Sevenoaks District Council and asked that they be considered alongside the Options Appraisal. We have spoken to Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other potential funding agencies, and have their provisional support. However, our first hurdle is to convince Sevenoaks District Council that this is clearly the best future for the Archbishop's Palace.

    I am writing to ask for your support in persuading Sevenoaks District Council that they should transfer the land and buildings to the Archbishop's Palace Conservation Trust, either for a nominal sum or on a long lease, that will enable us to realise our vision for the benefit of the residents of Otford, of the Darent Valley and the many visitors to the area. The decision-making is split between several areas in the Council, so you can write to Peter Fleming, Leader of the Council, or to Michelle Lowe who is one of the District Councillors for Otford (Sevenoaks District Council, Council Offices, Argyle Rd, Sevenoaks TN13 1HG).

    Nick Rushby
    Archbishop's Palace Conservation Trust

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