Houghton Lodge Gardens, Stockbridge win £50,000 grant for visitor accommodation

Set in rural Hampshire countryside, Houghton Lodge Gardens is set to create a collection of six self-contained accommodation units. They will be in in sixteen acres of gardens and grounds bordering the River Test, hailed ‘The Most Romantic River in England’.

The gardens attract visitors from all over the world who come to see landscaped lawns, flowers, sculpted borders and heritage kitchen garden. The house and gardens are also booked for weddings, meetings and events. Houghton Lodge has been the family home of the Busk family for over 100 years. The grade II listed and most unusual house is one of the best surviving examples of Cottage Orné – a gothic style from the 18th century, and can only be viewed as a private group tour booked in advance.

The grant was awarded by the Loddon and Test LEADER Programme, who allocate grants from the EU Rural Development Programme to support and build rural innovative economic growth in the region. The £50,000 grant with contribute 20% of the costs to convert a series of dishevelled cattle sheds in to luxury accommodation.

Jo Andrews MD of The Marketing Collective, promotes Houghton Lodge Gardens as a tourist destination, and was instrumental in securing the funding, she explains “Having accommodation onsite will further potential for weddings and corporate guests as well as tourists. In turn, their spend will make a positive economic impact locally. In addition to jobs, visitors will be spending money on food, drink, shopping and beyond.” The Test Valley Borough Council identified that whilst visitor numbers to the area was increasing, guest accommodation was doing the opposite. During 2015, tourism accounted for 9% of jobs in the area, and classed as a significant contributor to the economy.

The estate is run by current owners, Daniel and Sophie Busk. They have invested heavily to enhance visitor experience and improve the gardens and commercial opportunities. These include the installation of new visitor toilets, transforming the tea rooms and Orangery – which doubles up as an art gallery, and enhancing the gardens with additional planting and outdoor structures.

Building work began in February and is due to complete in September..

Houghton Lodge Gardens and tearoom are open from 1st April to 1st October 2017, 10am – 5pm.

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For more information about the Loddon and Test LEADER Programme, please contact Emily Preston, Programme Manager at emily.preston@hants.gov.uk or visit the website www.ruralfunding.co.uk

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