Blenheim remains on track to achieve a hugely ambitious set of 10 goals which affect every aspect of the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Five years into the 10-year programme, and despite the devastating impact of Covid-19, the estate is making significant progress across all its targets.
The goals, which were announced by CEO Dominic Hare in 2017, are revolutionising the way the Oxfordshire estate is run and aim to ensure it not only survives, but thrives, in the 21st century. They now include becoming carbon neutral by 2027 and removing 230,000 tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere by 2050, tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy, housing 300 families in high quality affordable homes and completing £40m of vital restoration.
Blenheim has also committed to the training of 100 apprentices, doubling its charitable contribution to the local community, and reacquiring or borrowing back key works from the Palace’s lost collections
Dominic Hare said: “At the halfway stage of the biggest revolution in Blenheim’s history and despite some major challenges, we’re very much on track to achieving these goals.
“We’ve converted our fleet to electric vehicles, reduced our electricity usage across the site by a quarter by installing LED lighting and utilise renewable energy including biomass, solar, and hydropower to help power the estate.
“We are planting 358 hectares of new forests, including an estimated 600,000 trees, assigning 800 hectares of land to regenerative agriculture and restoring 30 hectares of wetland as well as creating new solar farms."
Since 2017 Blenheim has welcomed more than 2.7m visitors, contributing almost £400m to the economy.
In addition to supporting 1700 local jobs, the estate is sourcing 44% of its supplies from within a 20-mile radius of Blenheim Palace and creating new jobs as part of its ongoing development programme.
Dominic Hare added: “We’ve built 66 affordable homes so far, and have consent to provide 209 more, well on our way to our target of 300 homes and our building work is now supporting an extra 175 jobs in the local area.
“We’re able to offer a 40% discount compared to the market rent, and we prioritise homes for qualifying key workers, including people local to Blenheim."
Money raised by these developments is also helping to fund the establishment of a £45m endowment to ensure the long-term survival of the World Heritage Site.
After achieving its goal of doubling charitable contributions to the local community within two years of launch, Blenheim has to date contributed £8.2m to charities and other good causes, which includes an annual £50,000 bursary for local good causes.
The apprenticeship scheme currently has 27 apprentices working across the estate and at Pye Homes with a further 23 who have already graduated, exactly halfway to the goal of 100 by 2027.
Blenheim directly employs 343 across all its businesses and is supporting more than 1,600 jobs in the wider community.
This year will see record-breaking £6m spent on restoration projects, including more than £3.5m on the lake dredge and nearly £1m on repairs to Vanbrugh’s iconic Grand Bridge. By the end of 2022, Blenheim will have spent over £22m on vital repair work in six years.