We're working hard to do more than ever for our local communities, enhance our green credentials and restore and conserve our World Heritage Site. In the next ten years we aim to:
1. Triple our economic contribution to the local area
2. Train over 100 new apprentices
3. Build high quality, affordable homes for 300 families
4. Achieve annual paying visitor numbers in excess of 750,000
5. Become a net generator of green energy
6. Become one of the UK's top 100 employers
7. Complete £40 million of vital restoration work
8. Reacquire key works from the Palace's lost collections
9. Secure endowment of £45 million to conserve our World Heritage Site
10. Double our charitable contributions to the community
We have decided on a number of key themes and actions that will help us with our goals. These cover a huge number of things, from sourcing more produce locally to refurbishing our Pleasure Gardens and investing in projects to benefit Woodstock, Bladon and the surrounding area. For our restoration programme, we have already begun the repair and re-gilding of the fountain in our Italian Garden and within the next three years, we will take on our largest restoration project yet, with the dredge of Queen’s Pool and the renovation of Grand Bridge, with an estimated cost in the region of 12 million.
We will be sharing our progress every step of the way so look out for updates in local press and online.
We're already making progress towards achieving our ambitious goals.
We brought 40 jobs to Bladon through the Home Farm development, and developed a plan with other large attractions to promote multi day visits to the area. We started to promote Woodstock activities to residents, local businesses and others. We are committed to continue to raise awareness going forward. We introduced The Jenny Holzer sequence of free projection evenings, focussing on war memories. Along with Wake up to Woodstock, SOFO and the local galleries, these evenings will bring in more visitors to the area.
In April 2017 we completed 60 new family homes in Bladon. We're also very excited to have secured planning approval for a significant number of affordable houses between Long Hanborough and Woodstock (as part of wider developments). We have begun redefining and widening the definition of affordable housing with West Oxfordshire District Council. This will be of huge benefit to the people of the local area, as we aim to retain ownership and to offer housing more directly able to meet local needs as they change from time to time, while also ensuring that those units always stay within the affordable housing pool.
Since converting our visitor business to a charity in February we have raised over £200,000 in Gift Aid for the restoration and conservation of our World Heritage Site, and recently contributed towards a £600,000 restoration project to St Mary Magdalene Church in Woodstock.
Our new Environmental Advisor has helped us retain our Gold Award for Green Tourism and further develop our green practises. We have initiated plans to introduce electric car chargers where possible as well as to move our own vehicle fleet over to electric vehicles over the next few years, and we have renewably generated about 15% of our direct energy consumption through our investments into PV and hydro-electricity. We have also considered the location of our suppliers, and made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint by sourcing produce from within a 20 mile radius.
We have also hired our first seven apprentices: they are all locally based and brilliant. Our HR team also began drawing up of a set of qualifications and training goals, towards which, with our support, staff will be encouraged to work.
We have spent over £2.5 million on restoration projects that include work on the north front steps and the completion of the HaHa wall that runs around the main section of the Palace and Formal Gardens, and our House Manager has spent time reviewing our archives and looking for items that have been sold in the past with a view to getting them back to Blenheim.
Since the start of 2017 we have spent £2.5 million on restoration projects and we aim to spend around £4 million each year going forwards, beginning with our largest restoration yet, with the dredge of Queen's Pool and the renovation of Grand Bridge.
We have moved our rolling 12 month paying visitor number from 550,000 to 600,000. This in turn has had a positive effect in terms of our contribution to the local economy, as visitors coming to visit Blenheim also spend time in the community. Our Gardens Team have designed a garden for the new annex and car park at St Hughes, which is also much used by the wider community, and we are currently helping extend the community woodland north of Woodstock, adding land and planting more trees.
We recognise that sustaining Blenheim in perpetuity is just as important for the long-term economic well-being of the area as it is for our goal; sharing and protecting Blenheim.
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