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BIRMINGHAM’S Highbury Hall – former home of the city’s founding father Joseph Chamberlain – could become a college.
Birmingham Conservation Trust is to report on possible uses of the council-owned Victorian manor house and gardens in Moseley, which is currently used as a wedding reception and conference venue
The family of Mr Chamberlain, the mayor of Birmingham in the 1870s, gifted the building and grounds to the people of Birmingham.
But there has been criticism that the manor has been neglected and mismanaged by the council.
Ahead of a report due out next month, Conservation Trust director Elizabeth Perkins said the architects had found the building in pretty good condition, with work needed on the roof and windows.
But she said the energy and water services needed an overhaul.
“We want to look at greener energy supplies, which could make a huge difference to the running costs,” she said.
“One of the options we are looking at is a residential learning college, which would fit in with its current use as a wedding reception and conference venue.
“There is real potential for Highbury Hall to engage with the local community.”
Ms Perkins said that, with public funding limited, the works and developments could be phased in over a long period, perhaps ten years. Mary De Vere Taylor, the great granddaughter of Joseph Chamberlain, has backed plans to improve usage of the building.
She said: “We are now working with the council to ensure there is no repeat of the earlier neglect of Highbury.
“Highbury could easily be transformed into a much-needed social enterprise to empower, educate and employ or train people.”
There are also proposals for a museum to be included, to celebrate the political family who built it.