A DEAL is set to be struck to allow the National Trust to take charge of looking after the grounds of historic Gawthorpe Hall.

County council bosses say the move at the Padiham site will not generate a saving for the authority.

But it will allow the trust to take a more ‘strategic’ approach to developing the 17th century manor house, county councillors have been told.

Currently the county council has a 99-year lease on the hall, signed in 1972, and is responsible for the upkeep of the venue and grounds maintenance.

Steve Gross, the council’s adult services director, said the move would help the trust to ‘strengthen its commitment to the whole property’ which may include upcoming repairs to the Great Barn.

The trust may also be able to access alternative funding sources, he added.

The hall presently attracts around 26,000 visitors each year and it currently costs around £27,000 per year to maintain.