The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Willow Court Farmhouse, Droitwich it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to save and transform this historic 16th Century building into six new affordable homes.
Development funding of £259,400 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust (WBPT) progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant in 2022. The WBPT is working together in a new partnership with Wychavon District Council and Platform Housing Group to restore and convert this empty Grade II listed property.
The collaboration between a Building Preservation Trust, Local Authority and Housing Association to rescue a heritage building at risk for sustainable use as affordable housing establishes a model that has potential to tackle two important issues: creating a viable secure use for historic buildings at risk and providing more affordable rent homes.
The farmhouse, which has not been lived in for decades, is in a poor condition, so the first stage of the project will make the site secure and develop detailed plans to save the building. The longer-term plan will see essential conservation work undertaken to stabilise it, including preservation of a historic timber frame hidden inside, and create six new affordable flats. An apprenticeship programme is planned, alongside a series of local community events and activities which will help to unlock the lost history of the farm and surrounding land. Research into a possible royal link will be also undertaken as it is thought that the farmhouse was part of the Salwarpe estate lands once owned by the family of Katherine of Aragon, wife of King Henry VIII.
The property is currently owned by Wychavon District Council, who have been working with the Trust for the past two years to find a sustainable, viable future for the building and it is intended that upon completion, the flats will be leased by Platform Housing Group as affordable rent homes.
Commenting on the award, Sue Whitehouse, Chair of The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players and aim to work with the local community in the area as we develop the project further. Added to the funding we have received from Wychavon District Council and the Architectural Heritage Fund, we are now able to ensure that Willow Court Farmhouse will indeed be safe as houses!”
Cllr Bradley Thomas, Leader of Wychavon District Council, added: “We have been working closely with the WBPT and Platform Housing Group to develop this project. This support, thanks to National Lottery players, will ensure that the new partnership will bring real change and benefits to both Willow Court Farmhouse and the people around it.”
Gerraint Oakley, Executive Director (Growth and Development), Platform Housing Group said: “We are thrilled to be involved in this project; ensuring that the historical importance of Willow Court Farmhouse won’t be lost is certainly heart-warming. Bringing the property back to life will be a wonderful addition to the local community. And with the need for affordable housing increasing, this project looks set to be a welcome addition to our growing portfolio of homes.”