Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Repairs to crumbling listed barn start at last

URGENT work has begun to prevent a crumbling Grade I listed barn from slipping into further disrepair.

Contractors for mental health provider InMind, which holds the lease on Chazey Farm Barn in Caversham, are waterproofing and windproofing the 17th-century building off The Warren and reinforcing it.

They are also installing security measures to deter thieves and vandals.

Campaigners who have been calling for repairs since 2013 want the barn restored to its original condition.

The building, which is on the Mapledurham Estate, has been on Historic England’s heritage at risk register for years because of its poor condition.

It was supposed to be restored under proposals to convert it into a 78-bed care home when Barchester Healthcare, of Gloucestershire, was granted planning permission on appeal in 2009 following a battle of more than a decade.

Groundworks were carried out in 2010 but nothing happened after that.

Three years later, a campaign to preserve the barn was launched by the Reading Civic Society, Caversham and District Residents Association and others who urged Reading Borough Council to intervene.

They were concerned as large cracks were appearing in the brickwork.

In January, the council threatened to carry out the work itself and charge InMind, which had taken on the lease, if no action was taken.

A works schedule was then agreed with advice from Historic England.

The council says it will monitor the reinforcement works to ensure they are carried out satisfactorily and will check whether the original planning permission is still valid.

A spokesman for the civic society and residents’ association said: “Sadly, the work to be undertaken is not restoration. We will be interested to hear the plans to properly repair and bring this historic barn back into practical use.”

The Mapledurham Estate says tenants are obliged to maintain the building under the terms of their lease.

InMind, whose offices are in Culham Lane, Remenham, cares for adults with long-term mental health conditions as well as elderly patients with dementia.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

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