The Friends of Insole Court have cleared the first hurdle in getting control of the South Wales gothic mansion – which could see them embark on a £4m refurbishment programme.
The group applied to the lottery for a £35,000 grant to come up with a business plan to show their ideas for taking over the Victorian home.
It is understood the eventual proposal is to do up the Cardiff landmark, in Llandaff, and create a visitor and community centre.
Outbuildings will be converted to provide a cafe and other refreshment facilities.
The stables will be revamped so they can be used for assorted activities. And the main gardens will be restored to their Victorian glory.
While the total bill is expected to be in the region of £4m, they can only apply for £800,000 from the National Lottery.
Friends of Insole Court chairman John Prior-Morris said: “The friends of Insole Court are delighted with the success of this application.”
He hoped they would be able to “secure the long-term future of the court that we have been campaigning for for 20 years”.
If the next stage of the application process is successful, responsibility will be handed to the newly formed Insole Court Trust. That is chaired by Captain Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards, former Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan.
He said: “I am delighted that the Friends of Insole Court have been successful in this first phase of the application for community asset transfer funding.
“It will provide the foundation upon which the trust and the council together may at last be able build sufficient management momentum and funding to at last restore this estate, built as it was on the riches of the Rhondda, to its rightful place in the life of our city and the Valleys to the north.”
The community asset transfer programme – run by the Big Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government – has a £13m kitty for schemes this side of the border.
Nigel Howells, the council’s executive member for sport, leisure and culture, claimed receiving the initial £35,000 was “good news”.
He said: “We will continue to work with the trust and other associated parties to help complete the process.
“The success of stage one is encouraging, on what will be long journey, if resulting in a satisfactory conclusion.”