BURTON MANOR could become an educational establishment again if negotiations to sell it to the University of Chester are successful.
Proposed plans have already been drawn up and shown to the Friends of Burton Manor, with the university investing a substantial sum to restore it.
It is understood the upgrades will include refurbishing two accommodation blocks and the lecture rooms as well as putting in a lift for the disabled.
The Grade 1 listed property would then be used for mainstream courses during the week and for specialist courses at the weekend.
There is no time frame yet on when the sale may take place, but if it goes through the refurbishment plan could be completed by next year.
Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Andrew Miller is keen to see the plans go ahead.
He said: “I hope it happens because I want to see it as a publicly available resource.
“If it was to be used as a private club or something like that, then the ordinary folk would not benefit from it.
Mr Miller said the university has been looking for suitable places to run some of its specialist courses for some time.
He added: “Here is an ideal opportunity.
“I was quite keen that they should look at this as a suitable place, both to help the local university and to ensure that the building does retain its use as a public property.”
The University of Chester already has a presence at Burton Manor business incubating units, known as The Atelier Project, which are rented to small craft businesses at low rates.
Burton Manor was opened as an adult education college in 1948. Initially there were a number of local authorities involved but by 2008 it was supported solely by Liverpool Council and making a huge loss.
The centre closed in March 2011.
A spokesman for the University of Chester said: “The university has been working at Burton Manor since 2006 and, in that time, we have made significant contributions to both the creation of the Atelier business incubation project and toward the restoration of the manor’s walled garden and glasshouse.
“Since the decision to close Burton Manor College as a whole was announced in March 2011 the university has been in discussion with colleagues from Liverpool City Council as to their plans for the future of the site.
“Complexities surrounding the ownership of the site and legal conditions affecting any sale have delayed the progress with negotiations but we remain committed to securing the best possible outcome for the university, businesses within the Atelier and local residents.
“The manor is in need of significant refurbishment and would require significant capital investment to do so. It has always been the university’s intention that, under the terms of any acquisition, we would continue the Atelier project, honour existing commitments toward the restored glasshouse and gardens, including its opening to the general public this summer, and to the maintenance of the manor as a centre for continuing adult and professional education.
“We have always enjoyed open and constructive dialogue with local residents and other interested parties and we value the support and endorsement we have received during our attempts to secure the future of such a significant historical site.
“At this point we believe it would be unhelpful to set a timetable for the conclusion of negotiations.”