FEARS have been sparked over the future of Warwick’s medieval Leper Hospital, as council chiefs’ latest attempt to save the crumbling site hit the stumbling blocks.
Warwick District Council says it is deeply concerned about the future of the Grade II listed site in Saltisford, after its owners objected to the authority’s compulsory purchase order (CPO).
Since being purchased privately more than 30 years ago, the buildings, comprising The Master’s House, St Michael’s Chapel and an ancient monument, has laid in ruins with no definitive plans for its regeneration.
Emergency works costing some £530,000 to secure the unstable building were approved and carried out last year. This included internal and external scaffolding and an independent roof to allow air flow and to stop water getting in.
But despite further regeneration plans and funding now in place, the owner has not been prepared to sell the land at what the council considers to be a realistic amount.
And, following numerous approaches to purchase the land for a planned restoration, last month the council was left with no option other than to serve the CPO in an effort to protect the historic buildings.
District councillor John Cooke said: “With the ownership of a listed building such as the leper hospital comes the responsibility of its custodianship. In this case the building, which is an important part of Warwick’s heritage is now at risk. We therefore have no choice than to proceed with the CPO process.
“Nonetheless, the district council remains committed to keeping an open dialogue with the owners to see whether – even at this late stage – mutually acceptable terms can be agreed.”
Hospital records show the church of St Michael was founded by the Earl of Warwick in 1135. By the mid-1500 it was said to be `much in ruin’ and was leased to a layman, Richard Fisher, who allowed four poor men to take up lodging. The chapel and Master’s house were later converted to cottages between the 17th and 18th centuries.