ONE of Ilkley’s most important heritage buildings could be saved from being sold into private hands after a group announced plans to run it for the community.
The future of Ilkley Manor House, which operated as a museum and art galley from 1974 until last year, has been unclear since Bradford Council withdrew funding in April 2015. All Saints Church was chosen as the Council’s preferred partner to take over community management of the former museum, but it backed out in September over a lack of financial support.
Now a group of people, headed up by former West Yorkshire County Council chief executive Sir Rodney Brooke, and including former Ilkley MP Ann Cryer and the chairman of Ilkley Parish Council, Coun Brian Mann, have put together a fresh proposal to preserve the Grade I-listed building and broaden its use by the community.
Sir Rodney said: “The Manor House is at the heart of Ilkley. It is the most historic building in the district. We strongly believe that it should not be sold for private use but should be available for use by the community. By combining a café with community use - whilst also preserving an exhibition space for some of the town’s most important artefacts - we believe that the Manor House can have a financially sustainable future and will be a wonderful facility for the people of Ilkley.”
The group plan to establish a charitable trust to run the Manor House, and will make further improvement for disabled users.
The building, which is not currently on the market, was gifted to the town in 1961, and came under the control of the council in 1974.
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for education, skills and culture, said: “We’ve worked really hard to enable a community solution to be found for Ilkley Manor House and were disappointed when the preferred community partner decided not to pursue the opportunity. We’ve now been contacted by local people regarding this latest community proposal and are meeting with them shortly to ask more questions.”