Chester Farm total cost expected to be £11m

Chester Farm, Irchester
Image caption The Chester Farm site includes an Iron Age settlement and Roman town as well as the fire-gutted house

Taxpayers are to underwrite a potential £2.2m shortfall in plans to open a fire-damaged Grade II listed farmhouse to the public, it has emerged.

In July, the Heritage Lottery Fund pledged £4m to the opening of Chester Farm, in Irchester, where human activity dates back 10,000 years.

Northamptonshire County Council has already set aside £4.9m to help meet the expected £11m project cost.

On Tuesday, the council's cabinet will be updated on the Chester Farm plan.

A report to the cabinet, which outlines the business plan, said a conference centre planned as part of the project would help the complex become self-financing.

It states part of the overall cost includes £2.2m of "unsecured funding" from "other sources".

Image caption The 17th Century farmhouse as it appeared before the fire in 2010

'National importance'

The report said: "However this cannot be guaranteed and, depending on the actual funding secured through this source, the council will need to underwrite any potential shortfalls from the assumed £2.2m to enable the plan to be delivered. underwrite any potential shortfalls from the assumed £2.2m."

The house, which was built near the site of a walled Roman town, was severely damaged by a fire in 2010.

The council received a £1.9m insurance pay-out to repair the 17th Century building.

County council leader Jim Harker said the property was a "site of national importance".

The 45-acre (18 hectare) property was bought by the council in 2004 after it became uneconomic as a farm unit.

The site includes an Iron Age settlement, a complete Roman town and the deserted medieval village Chester-by-the-Water.

The council hopes the first phase of the development will be open to the public within two years.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites