A top management school has thrown down the gauntlet to local hotels in the battle for corporate events business.

Bradford University School of Management is offering its historic Heaton Mount site – once the home of a Victorian textile baron – as a conference and function venue and has already hosted a number of wedding receptions.

University bosses have teamed up with the regional body Conference Leeds, which covers the Bradford district, to promote its new accommodation and dining services in the 19th-century Italianite mansion which was built in 1864 for stuff merchant Robert Kell.

Set in nine acres of parkland overlooking Lister Park, Heaton Mount is the most historic part of the management school’s campus. A £12 million refurbishment and extension of the campus modernised and upgraded facilities to 21st-century standards, including 42 guest bedrooms and dining rooms, but also retained period features at Heaton Mount.

The centre is now marketed as having a ‘boutique hotel’ feel, ideal for corporate events and a venue for professional organisations and societies which are being encouraged to consider using it for future events.

Claire Williams, Heaton Mount sales manager, said: “I am delighted with our refurbishment and feel we have the competitive edge over other venues in Bradford. With our new luxury product, exceptional service and quality catering, our venue offers something different for conferences, events and weddings in the area.

“We were Bradford’s best kept secret. By next year, we hope to be one of its top venues.”

The move is also seen as providing a boost for the Bradford district’s profile and an opportunity to attract new business into the area.

Amanda Kirby, of Bradford Women’s Business Group, said the October meeting at Heaton Mount attracted new members and guests.

The latest initiative by the management school comes hot on the heels of the launch of a new events space on the eighth floor of the National Media Museum. Room At The Top was inspired by the book of that name by Bingley author John Braine, which became a successful film shot mainly in and around Bradford in the late 1950s.

Heaton Mount was the first house to be built on the Heaton estate land, which was developed between 1870 and 1920, and has been a designated conservation area since 1981.

The School of Management was set up in 1963 and is one of Britain’s longest-established university-based business schools offering specialist courses to staff from UK and overseas businesses from more than 30 nations in Bradford. It also runs an extensive range of programmes around the world.