PROMISING young musicians will get expert training in a former fire control centre when it is converted into a regional centre of excellence.

Hestercombe House is being handed over to the body that runs Hestercombe Gardens, with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama taking space there.

The Grade 2 listed building, originally built in the 16th Century, is currently used by its owner, Somerset County Council, to store equipment.

Cllr David Huxtable, cabinet member for resources, said the move would save the council £2million in maintenance costs and £200,000 in annual running costs.

He added: “This is great news for Hestercombe House and the council taxpayer.

“We looked at several options when considering its future that would relieve the financial burden of running such a property on the taxpayer, while also ensuring the heritage of this beautiful house is protected and enhanced.”

The terms of the agreement mean the property will be used as a venue “for the education and benefit of the public” and it will be “preserved, restored and enhanced”.

Philip White, chief executive of Hestercombe Gardens Trust, said: “We’re delighted that the Guildhall School of Music and Drama will be establishing a regional centre of excellence there that will bring expert musical training to children up to the age of 18, drawn from all over the South-West.

“We were keen to find a role for the house that’s sympathetic to its situation and at the same time strengthen its links with the local community.”