A world famous Tibetan Lama has visited Scarborough to discuss the future of Londesborough Lodge as a health and wellbeing centre.
During his visit, the Venerable Lama Yeshe Rinpoche gave a talk to 100 people at the Crown Spa Hotel and met with council officials to talk about the plans.
Lama Rinpoche is Abbot of Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Scotland and chairman of the Rokpa Trust Charity, which is interested in taking on Londesborough Lodge in The Crescent.
He has now made what he calls a “concrete proposition” to Scarborough Council, saying the charity would like the lease on the building to be transferred to them via the community asset transfer programme.
Lama Rinpoche explained that the charity would then invest up to half a million pounds on the building, transforming it into a centre for practices such as yoga, tai chi, mindfulness and alternative healing.
He said: “We hope the people of Scarborough will be very positive about what we’re trying to offer. Everything is about bringing people together through healing.
“If we’re offered this opportunity, we will make sure that all the money is spent on what it should be.”
Lama Rinpoche said his discussions with council leader Tom Fox and Cllr Bill Chatt, who is portfolio holder of public health and housing, had been very positive so far.
He said: “Unless the council do something soon, the building is going to fall apart.
“We want to invest up to half a million pounds if the council is prepared to move on this.
“We’ll be taking a massive white elephant away from the council’s hands and everybody should benefit.”
Lama Rinpoche visited the Grade II listed building while in Scarborough and said he was very impressed with the premises and its location.
He said: “We’re looking at bringing it back to its former glory.
“The number one thing is that the house will remain here forever. It will be for local people and for local needs.
“This is my legacy - it will be Lama’s gift to Scarborough.”
The project is being driven forward locally by Buddhists Ani Tselha and Gelong Thubten, who have been giving talks and hosting meditation and mindfulness sessions in Scarborough.
The next step is for the Rokpa Trust Charity to submit an expression of interest to the council, stating what they would do if the building was leased to them via community asset transfer.
The process means that the building would still be owned by the council, but would be on a long lease to the interested party.
The charity is hoping that if their plans are acceptable to the council, the building would take a year to renovate and could be open by 2014.
Lama Rinpoche, who is also executive director of the world famous Holy Isle project, said once the centre was open, we would visit once a year to coincide with a celebration event and open day.
He said: “I hope that everybody will make the right decision so that the people of Scarborough can be in a win-win situation.”