FOOTING an unexpected bill is not an easy task. For most of us, it means scrimping and saving or getting some financial help from somewhere.

For Blenheim Palace, the bill is a whopping £40m over the next 20 years.

This World Heritage status site is one of Oxfordshire’s jewels. It would be a blow for us and the nation if it were not maintained to the highest standards which would, in turn, hit visitor numbers to our region.

Faced with such a maintenance and repair problem, it is understandable the palace is reviewing its ample land-holdings.

Now is the time to do so, as the need for housing in the county was laid bare in the strategic housing market assessment, and land ready to be developed at a premium as a result.

But the palace needs to weigh this up with the pressures on those who live around it.

It cannot fall for the temptation to sell off large tracts of land and pocket the cash – no matter how tempting that must be with the pressing need to find huge sums of money.

To do so could destroy the character of the towns and villages that neighbour the estate.

A fine balance must be met amid the pressure for housing.