HALSWAY Manor on the Quantocks has taken a big step towards becoming a national centre for the folk arts after West Somerset District Council passed its planning application.

It means the creation of a new timber-framed activity centre in woodland behind the manor and a new performance space as well as restoration to the manor.

The aim of the £4million scheme is to conserve the heritage of the manor and attract more people to participate in a wide range of folk arts activities.

Chief executive Paul James said: “We can now launch our funding appeal and start the planning work to realise this exciting scheme which brings many benefits both for the preservation of the historic building and for anyone who wants to participate in folk arts activities.

“We’ve got lots of grants to apply for now and those will take time but the first phase should be up within 18 months.

“Somerset really is the home of folk.”