Londesborough Lodge could be welcoming its first visitors within a matter of months, say those behind plans to transform the historic property into a wellbeing centre.
Ani Tselha, of the Rokpa Trust, told The Scarborough News that subject to planning approval, work on breathing new life into the building could be under way within weeks.
During a tour of the neglected yet beautiful listed building, she explained that an asbestos survey had been done, a planning application had been submitted and local tradesmen had been contacted to provide quotes for renovation work.
Ani said: “We’ve submitted the plans now, so subject to planning permission being granted, we’re ready to start removing asbestos at the end of April.”
This will signal the start of the first phase of work, which will involve opening a meditation room, three residential rooms and a tea room with patio doors onto the garden within seven to 12 months.
Ani said: “It’s all moving ahead now which is really exciting. It’s such a perfect location for a health and wellbeing centre.
“It’s a place where anyone can come and have a cup of tea, sit and read a book, and find their own peace.
“We want to make it clear that you don’t need to be a Buddhist to come here – it will be a place for the whole community.”
The centre is set to attract local people along with visitors from further afield, having created a great deal of interest already.
Ani explained that meditation sessions, which are being held at Woodend until the centre opens, are attracting around 60 people each time, from as far as Leeds, Hull and Middlesbrough.
She continued: “I think we could even get more people coming here than we get at our other centres, in London, Edinburgh and Brussels.
“It will certainly bring a lot of people to the town.”
The centre will feature numerous different facilities including a tea room, cafe and training room, areas for meditation, therapy, yoga and martial arts.
There will also be residential rooms, both for people who are visiting the centre as part of a retreat and for longer-term residents who wish to live as part of a community.
Ani is also hoping that people in Scarborough will take the project into their hearts and offer time or labour to help move the work along.
She said: “I think that for people living here or visiting the centre, it will be really conducive to wellbeing, health and peace.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s very exciting.”
The building was transferred to the Rokpa Trust last year by Scarborough Council under the community asset transfer programme.
The programme gives community groups chance to take unused or empty buildings on a long-term lease and transform them into something of benefit for the community.
The project is set to cost around £500,000 and is being funded by the Rokpa Trust, through donations and fundraising activities.
l To watch a video about the project go to www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk