The National Trust has turned down an invitation to take over responsibility for running Birmingham’s Highbury Hall, the former home of the Chamberlain political dynasty.
Birmingham City Council, which owns the estate in Moseley, is facing a bill of at least £10 million to restore the 19th century mansion and adjoining gardens to their former glory.
Council officials approached the National Trust to ask for help, but the organisation said it was not in a position to take on the restoration and running costs.
The council’s Trusts and Charities Committee is responsible for overseeing Highbury Hall, which was left to the city of Birmingham in trust by the Chamberlain family in 1932.
A much delayed report by the Birmingham Conservation Trust, setting out a workable plan for the hall which ensures it is well maintained and used in line with the Chamberlain family’s wishes, is now with the council and could be published next month.
The hall has been used by the council’s civic catering unit for banqueting, conferences and wedding receptions since the 1970s.
This has sparked complaints from the Charities Commission because profits from the venture were going to the local authority, not to the Highbury Trust.
Committee chairman John Alden said he was not surprised that the National Trust turned down the request for assistance.
Coun Alden (Con Harborne) said: “I personally didn’t think they would take it on because of the huge amount of money needed to restore the building and grounds.”
Coun Alden said he believed a deal with the commission about the future relationship between the council and the Trust was close to being approved, with civic catering likely to be given a temporary lease until 2013 to continue to use the hall.
“We will have to have another public meeting where everyone who has an interest in Highbury can work out where we are going,’’ he added.