‘Shakespeare’s barn’ is set to be demolished

Shakespeare's barn at Lea
Shakespeare's barn at Lea
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A listed building with possible links to William Shakespeare is to be torn down.

Councillors agreed the Grade II listed barn at Old Lea Hall Farm in Blackpool Road, Preston, will be flattened, after the historic building was deemed “beyond economic repair”.

Playwright William Shakespeare

Playwright William Shakespeare

This week’s Preston Council planning committee meeting was told the roof of the barn had collapsed twice, and the rebuild would amount to about 60 per cent of the total of the building. Principal planning officer Natalie Beardsworth said: “It is located in the farmstead of Old Lea Hall.

“The farm is a working farm, but the barn is under-used and has been for some time.

“Its state of disrepair has meant it is not safe to use.”

She said the barn was “beyond economic repair” and said: “There’s no viable agricultural use that can be found. On that basis, we are recommending that you grant consent for the total demolition.”

The building, in Lea, is Grade II listed, and is located to the east of a substantial Grade II listed stable building.

It is to the south east of Old Lea Hall farmhouse, which is listed Grade I, the remaining fragment of a large manor house.

Shakespeare is believed to have lived at Lea Hall when, as a young man, he was taken in by owners the de Hoghton family around 1580.

Officers told the meeting that there was no evidence of intentional neglect of the building. A report considered by councillors said: “Consent is sought for complete demolition of a Grade II listed barn, a heritage asset included in the national list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest compiled by the Secretary of State for the Environment.”

Listed building consent for the demolition of the barn was granted with conditions, including the need for a contract to be in place for a replacement development before the demolition.

The application was approved by the committee by 10 votes to two.

Coun John Browne, who voted against the plans, said: “I’m not going to see listed buildings pulled down if I can possibly avoid it.”