STRATFORD Town Trust have defended the controversial sale of Mason’s Court this week.
The Rother Street building, which is believed to date back to the 15th century and which is one of Stratford’s oldest residential addresses, fetched £520,000 at an auction in London on Monday.
The Grade-II listed building is in need of major repair and restoration work costing an estimated £1million.
Owners, the Stratford Town Trust made the move to sell the historic Rother Street building made to safeguard its future.
But the sale did not go down well with many townspeople who called on the trust to think again. The last tenant, Vuk Vukovic, who was evicted in February, had even called for the Charity Commission to step in and stop the sale claiming it was illegal.
Trust chairman Alan Haigh told The Observer: “It is important to make it very clear that the Town Trust is fully compliant with the Charities Commission’s requirements and has not breached any rules, as has been alleged.
“Secondly, the town trust did approach heritage organisations prior to putting Mason’s Court up for sale, but they were not interested in the property. We also consulted English Heritage and the Stratford Society and received their support for our decision.
“The town trust is a grant-giving charity and not a heritage charity. It owns more than 100 properties and lands – which are endowed investments – in Stratford, with the main purpose of managing these assets to optimise the income available for our grant giving. More than £1.7 million is awarded every year to support our charities, schools, groups and individuals.
“As such, the town trust could simply not spend £1million restoring a building. That is not why the charity exists. By finding a new owner, Mason’s Court will get the investment required. It is a building protected by its Grade II* Listed status and will not be ‘lost’.”
Mr Haigh added the money raised through the sale legally had to be – and would be – reinvested in investments.
Details about the buyer have not yet been revealed but the trust was reported to be happy with the level of interest and the selling price.