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folly for sale - Updated January 26th 2014

The unique Massey's Folly, including the Village Hall will soon be up for sale. So what is the next chapter in the long running saga?

Any OffersAssuming a buyer comes forward the most likely outcome is that the whole building will be converted into some form of residential accommodation, although as with any other plan for the Folly nothing is straightforward.

The listed status of the building will influence the price any potential buyer will be prepared to offer, bearing in mind the high costs likely to be incurred in converting the building.

Despite various optimistic predictions about the value of the site no potential purchaser will be willing to match the estimated value of a bare land site and quite what percentage of the eventual purchase price will end up in the Village Hall Management Coffers has not yet been made clear, as the major part of the surrounding land and the Eastern end of the Folly is privately owned.

There are two main drawbacks to any conversion of the current building. The listed status of the building prohibits any major alteration of the external appearance so any future development is confined by the eccentric layout of the building and the complex roof lines.

English Heritage, who oversee any developments on listed building are quick to enforce their interpretation of requirements but do not directly offer any financial assistance to cover any additional expenses, as many a listed householder in Farringdon has found to their cost. There are grants available for refurbishment of listed buildings from other sources but as a general rule the amount available is not sufficient to cover the extra costs involved.

The second problem is the internal layout. Here, there might be a little more leeway for changes but, despite the skilled bricklaying on the exterior walls the standard of construction generally falls far short of contemporary standards, let alone current building regulations, so the cost of converting this building will be far in excess of that incurred with more conventional layouts

.A year or two ago a survey revealed that the cost of refurbishing the roof would be in the region of half a million pounds, which gives some idea of the potential cost of redeveloping the entire building.

Once the building is sold, however long that process takes, and the reconstruction work begins, Farringdon will be without a Village Hall or "Community Centre" . The Church can be used for formal meetings and possibly one or two other events on a temporary basis but in the long term there will be no Hall available for social events and activities.

Is there a need for a Village Hall? Most residents would probably say yes but a high proportion of regular bookings for the current Hall come from outside Farringdon.

There are still more questions; is there a suitable site in the Village, how much will it cost to purchase and where are the funds coming from to construct a new Village Hall. Some optimists are convinced a generous benefactor might donate a site to the Village. One can only hope, but it is more than likely that any such offer would have strings attached to permit further development on adjacent land and would that be a price worth paying?

The area required would be considerably more than the footprint of the New Hall, as to qualify for some of the grants available it is necessary to provide sufficient car parking areas for people using the building. Some years ago plans were mooted to build a Hall on land adjacent to Shirnall meadows in the area adjacent to the A32, which is, or will be shortly, in the ownership of Farringdon Parish Council. Although the site hasn't flooded recently (fingers crossed!) there is a strong likelihood that it could happen sometime in the future unless the site is raised above the level of the surrounding roads which would add further costs to the construction bill although this would be offset by the land purchase costs

The potential site for new Hall has been much discussed, officially and otherwise, and there seems to be some support for a more central site making the building more accessible from both ends of the Village. Presumably there are no plans to relocate the Church on the same basis!. Whatever the outcome I'm sure the discussion is likely to rumble on for some time to come.

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