Blenheim is making significant progress towards achieving a set of 10 ambitious goals just a year after they were officially announced.
The goals included tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy, housing 300 families in high quality affordable housing, completing a £40 million restoration programme and becoming a net generator of green energy within a decade.
The plan also incorporated the training of 100 apprentices, a doubling of Blenheim charitable impact on the local community, and the returning to Blenheim of key historical artefacts which have been lost from the old collection over generations.
“This was always going to be an ambitious and radical programme which required huge effort and commitment from the entire team,” said CEO Dominic Hare.
“I have to say I have been delighted and inspired with the enthusiasm demonstrated across the Estate to reaching these goals and amazed by the speed with which many of them are already being achieved.”
More than 900,000 people visited Blenheim in 2017, excluding large-scale events, which is a new record. Over 600,000 of those were paying visitors which is well on course for the 750,000 10-year goal.
An economic impact study carried out by Oxford Brookes University to benchmark what Blenheim contributes to the economy shows it is spending more than £16.9m annually with suppliers within a 20-mile radius of the Estate supporting more than 4,000 local jobs.
Work is underway on a new housing development at Long Hanborough which will include 169 homes; 59 of which will be made available for rent or shared ownership, the rentals will be affordable at up to 40% of the current market rent.
Over the past 12 months more than £2.5m has been spent on a series of restoration projects including the repair of the historic North Steps of the Palace, the aim is for this to rise annually to in excess of £4m per annum.
The biggest projects on the horizon include the commencement of the Great Lake dredging programme and restoration of the Grand Bridge.
As well as implementing wide-ranging energy saving programmes across the Estate, Blenheim has also invested extensively in photovoltaic panels, bio-mass boilers and hydroelectric turbines in order to achieve its aim of becoming a net generator of green energy.
Blenheim has also taken delivery of its first electric van alongside two new electric cars, introduced a recycling compactor on site and announced plans to phase out singe use plastics.
In the last financial year Blenheim has appointed seven apprentices with another 11 due to join by the end of this year, brought 40 jobs to Bladon through the Home Farm office development and invested more than £100,000 in staff training programmes.
It has also achieved ‘One to Watch’ status in the prestigious 2018 Best Companies to Work For list.
A £50,000 bursary for local charities has been launched and Blenheim has so far contributed towards significant restoration projects and new developments at St Mary Magdalene Church and St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Woodstock as well as setting up an annual Blenheim Start Ups competition where one local new business will win a contract with the Estate and mentoring programme.
Artworks and artefacts which have been lost from the Palace over the years have also been re-purchased including a portrait by Paul-Cesar Helleu of Consuelo Vanderbilt, the 9th Duchess of Marlborough. Blenheim continues to research the location of old collections with a view to exploring the possibility of their return to the Palace.