§ Mr. Trippier
English Heritage has been in discussion with Christchurch borough council (which is the owner of the grade I listed Highcliffe castle as well as being the local planning authority) with the aim of securing the repair of the building and a beneficial use for it in the future. The Department has been kept in touch with the progress of these discussions.
I understand that English Heritage has offered grant aid of up to £200,000 to the council towards the cost of urgent repairs to the building. The authority has accepted this offer and work is expected to begin shortly.
English Heritage has made it clear to the council that if repairs are not carried out it will ask the Secretary of State to use his powers under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to authorise English Heritage itself to carry out the works. I cannot of course prejudge my right hon. Friend's decision if he should be asked to take this step, but he would consider the case very carefully in the light of the circumstances.