A FAMOUS Brent landmark steeped in history has been saved from demolition by a £1.2million grant.
Derelict Dollis Hill House, which stands in Gladstone Park, has been awarded the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will help transform the dilapidated Grade II listed Regency villa into a tearoom and restaurant.
The building was once the rural retreat of 19th Century prime minister William Gladstone and American author Mark Twain, but has been vacant for almost 20 years and been subjected to several arson attacks.
Brent Council also considered knocking down the 200-year-old house after failing to find a suitable organisation to secure its future.
But the grant now means social enterprise charity, Training for Life, and the Dollis Hill House Trust can begin restoring the mansion to its former glory.
Training for Life is best known for setting up successful restaurant, Hoxton Apprentice, in Hackney, which has won critical acclaim since it opened in 2004.
Gill Close, chairwoman of the Dollis Hill House Trust, said: "Local people
have been working for almost 20 years to save it, so we are absolutely thrilled that our partnership with Training for Life is finally going to bring the house back to being the vibrant heart of Gladstone Park and the local community for all to enjoy."
Designs never before revealed to the public will go on display in Gladstone Park on Sunday.
It is expected the house, which has been on English Heritage's 'at-risk' register, will host community projects and people will be able to hire space to hold wedding receptions, functions and conferences.
Every year the house will also provide apprenticeships for 50 unemployed people in the borough and 20 volunteering roles which will teach people vital skills to find work.
Gordon d'Silva, chief executive of Training for Life, said: "Restoring this wonderful building to its former glory is just one part of the story.
"Thereafter using it to train people, create jobs and generate income as a social enterprise is the best legacy one can provide."
However, Dilwyn Chambers, member of the Dollis Hill House Trust, believes the money is not enough.
He said: "In previous discussions the total has been in the region of around £4m.
"It will be interesting to see from the new plans whether the grant will be enough."
However, Wesley Kerr, chairman of the London Heritage Lottery Fund committee, said: "There is now a clear strategy to save this damaged and
neglected 'at-risk' mansion and give it an impressive mix of educational, social and community uses."