A HIGH Court ruling means millions of pounds generated by the sale of land around Blenheim Palace for housing will now go to conserving the estate.

Following last week's decision, 70 per cent of profits from the sale of land east of Woodstock earmarked for 300 homes will go to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation.

The foundation, established in 2016, aims to pump £40m into conserving the UNESCO World Heritage Site over the next 10 years.

Oxford Mail:

The ruling comes after West Oxfordshire District Council granted Blenheim Estate outline planning permission to build the development in May.

Before last week’s decision, the estate did not have the legal ability to ensure profits from the sale would go towards building an endowment to protect Blenheim in perpetuity.

Now Judge Matthew Marsh has said there are ‘compelling reasons’ why 70 per cent of the cash should go towards conserving the palace and the world heritage site.

Judge Marsh argued the decision would ‘hugely improve’ the trust’s financial position and ‘benefit future generations of the family’.

David Gelber, grandson of the 11th Duke of Marlborough, who established the trust, told the court of the family’s commitment to maintaining ‘a place of immense natural beauty and significant historic and architectural interest’.

He added: “My understanding is that the members of our family have always felt a moral obligation to support Blenheim as an asset of the nation from which our family have derived significant benefit.

“We are therefore keen that the foundation should have sufficient funds to ensure that the World Heritage Site management plan can be carried out for the public benefit.”

The court heard no precise value has yet been put on the development land, which will depend on the number of affordable homes required by planners.

The Woodstock site will be built in line with guidelines established by the Prince's Foundation, which states landowners have a responsibility to build homes their communities 'actually want'.

Under the scheme, 35 per cent of properties will be available either for rent or shared ownership, with rental levels priced at 60 per cent of the current market rate.

But the estate has also drawn criticism for its approach to housing, which includes Blenheim retaining full ownership on socially rented homes.

Last month, West Oxfordshire district councillor Merilyn Davies, whose ward covers a 169-home site being built by the estate in Long Hanborough, slammed the policy for creating a ‘feudal situation’.