A LANDMARK Stratford building is finally set to get a new lease of life.
The Stratford Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) submitted a planning application to refurbish the historic Toll House in December last year.
And earlier this week members of Stratford District Council’s ruling Cabinet agreed to open the door for the Grade I-listed building to be used as an office and exhibition space as part of a £500,000 refurbishment.
Bought by Stratford District Council from Warwickshire County Council in 2001, the building is currently unused and its condition is continually deteriorating.
The Stratford Society – of which the SHBT is an offshoot – has been looking at ways to save the 19th century building which sits at the town end of the Clopton Bridge for many years.
Previous ideas have ranged from a hairdressing salon to a holiday let but lack of funding put any further progress on hold.
However after the SBHT carried out feasibility studies, it was decided the building should be turned into an office.
There are also plans to hold occasional summer exhibitions outside the 200 year-old building highlighting the industrial heritage of the waterfront, and the transport links of the late 18th and early 19th century provided by turnpike roads, the canal and Avon.
The project has already received support grants from the Architectural Heritage Fund, Stratford District Council and the Stratford Society.
SHBT had also prepared grant applications to English Heritage – which placed the Toll House on its building At Risk list – and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
But to enable the necessary funding to be granted, the SBHT required a commitment to a lease from Stratford District Council.
And on Monday (June 1) the Cabinet agreed to grant a 75 year lease at a peppercorn rent for 25 years with a review after this time.
The Toll House was originally built in 1814 as a money spinner for the town.
Horse drawn coaches and wagons had to pay to cross Clopton Bridge and even those on horse back and those with cattle and sheep had to pay.
But the life of the building was shortlived.
In 1816, the Toll House roof was reported to be in poor repair and by 1820 the whole building had fallen into ruin.
In 1839, due to a loss of traffic, the levying of tolls came to an end and when Cox’s Yard timber business closed in 1846 so did the Toll House, which was left unused and semi-derelict.
It is hoped the project will be completed by 2016.