Cllr Peter Heydon, executive member for transformation and finance, said:
The council has been subsidising Easthampstead Park Conference Centre by approximately £250,000 a year for several years, which is unsustainable. Our efficiency plan published in 2016 made it clear that we needed to look at reducing this subsidy and so we asked experts to look into options for the site. This work is still ongoing; no decision about its future has been made and will not be made until April 2018 at the earliest.
"Options for the site need to benefit the council, our residents and Easthampstead Park Conference Centre. While it is premature to talk about any possible sale, the council is clear that as a listed building surrounded by ancient woodland there is absolutely no appetite to see it converted into homes. Likewise, the council would only ever consider options that see the site as a 'going concern' - ensuring all current wedding and conference bookings are honoured to the same standard offered at the moment.
"Our current lease with Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue (SEBEV) at the centre runs until February 2018. SEBEV has not approached us or asked us to renew the lease beyond that point. Given the intent to expand the business and improve the quality of Easthampstead Park as a wedding and conference venue, SEBEV’s vehicle parking and storage requirements are not felt to be compatible with an enhanced facility. SEBEV is therefore right to assume that the lease will terminate as agreed.