HOPES have been raised that a historic house near Taunton that has suffered years of neglect could be turned into prestigious flats.

Grade II* listed Sandhill Park, which was originally built on the edge of Bishops Lydeard in around 1720, has been bought by new owners.

It had been repossessed by a lender after the previous owner went bust.

Somerset West and Taunton Council is working with the new owners, the Akkeron Group, trading as Blackdown Hills Living Ltd, to ensure the mansion is preserved.

The stately home was built in picturesque grounds and more recently has been used as a prisoner of war camp, a children’s home and a military and civilian hospital.

It was badly damaged in an arson attack in 2011 and is included in Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.

Somerset County Gazette:

The emergency works, which include making the property water-tight, will be addressed as a priority with a longer-term plan for residential use to be presented by the owner in due course.

Cllr Mike Rigby, the council's executive member for planning and transport, said: “SWT are looking forward to a more positive future for the mansion house under its new ownership.

“The new owner has already committed significant funds to an account to fund these urgent repairs which will be the first step towards returning this historic building to its former glory.

“As a local councillor for the area I’ve been working to help secure the future for this important listed building and am greatly encouraged that the new owner shares our vision.”

Ross Simmonds, acting regional director at Historic England, said: “New ownership is a positive opportunity to secure the future of Sandhill Park.

“We welcome the new owner’s commitment to the repair of this important building, and we look forward to working with them and Somerset West and Taunton Council to get works underway as soon as possible.”

Sandhill Park was built for local MP John Periam and later became the Lethbridge family home for more than 150 years.

A previous owner, Strongvox, built a number of houses on the estate before selling the mansion to another company.