Five-year plan to secure future of National Trust

The NTS hopes its five-year plan will provide a brighter future for its properties, including House of Dun.
The NTS hopes its five-year plan will provide a brighter future for its properties, including House of Dun.

THE NATIONAL Trust for Scotland (NTS) has unveiled a new five-year plan which promises to change the way the organisation is managed and invests in its properties.

The shake-up has come after a “root and branch” independent review of the charity which was harsh in its criticism of the trust’s “byzantine” management structure. It was prompted by the trust’s financial crisis two years ago which led to job losses and the sale of its Edinburgh headquarters.

Its plan aims to focus clearly on future priorities including conservation of its properties, promotion of the country’s heritage, financial sustainability, visitor enjoyment and investment in people.

The trust cares for a number of heritage sites in Angus, including House of Dun, and is keen to make the most of the opportunities presented by each property.

Conducted by former Scottish Parliament presiding officer George Reid the review found, among other shortcomings, that NTS had no central database of assets and properties with some recorded on individual databases and many others on card indexes or held in individual properties.

It also found that some properties did not have inalienable status, guaranteeing preservation, and only 75 per cent of them had formal statements of their historical significance. The trust also had no clear idea of the cost of future repairs.

Following the report’s recommendations, some of the charity’s minor properties were sold off to cut costs and streamline its portfolio. A new 15-member board has also been appointed.

Chairman Sir Kenneth Calman said: “Reforms, careful evaluation and fresh thinking have enabled us to be in a position to publish this new strategy and set in train the process of awakening ‘the sleeping warrior’ that is the trust. We are ready and prepared for a new era of innovation, engagement and advocacy for the natural, built and cultural heritage that makes Scotland so special and unique.

“As we looked at each of the sites we care for in depth, we came to understand that just how much opportunity there is in each. As a board we saw no need to consider the disposal of major heritage properties – instead we can unlock their potential in order to secure their ongoing conservation for future generations.”

The new strategy will be presented to trust members at the charity’s annual general meeting in the Caird Hall, Dundee, on Saturday.