Housing scheme seen as 'best way of preserving' Warwick's 500-year-old Master's House and Chapel

In September the council announced that 'the future of the historic site had been secured' because a Government-appointed Planning Inspector confirmed the compulsory purchase order (CPO) by WDC

Two historic Warwick buildings dating back around 500 years are to be given a new lease of life after councillors supported plans for them to be renovated and converted into housing.

The scheme for the Master’s House and St Michael’s Chapel, on Saltisford, is seen as the best way of preserving the Grade II Listed buildings which are on the site of the medieval leper hospital in the town.

Both buildings have been on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register for a number of years although some restoration work has been carried out on the chapel. They are believed to stand on the remains of earlier medieval hospital buildings which extend across the whole of the site.

The Leper Hospital site in Warwick

In September the council announced that 'the future of the historic site had been secured'.

This was because a Government-appointed Planning Inspector confirmed the compulsory purchase order (CPO) by WDC of the medieval Leper Hospital site in the Saltisford area of the town.

The council said it had agreed with the current owner that before it exercises its right, they will have until the end of the year to submit a planning application and then repair and refurbish the important heritage assets, the Master’s House and St Michael’s Chapel within 30 months.

Should the owner not comply with these terms then the land will automatically transfer to the council and subject to planning approval, it would be able to facilitate the restoration of the site.

The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust have applied to carry out the work and to also build a three-storey apartment block which will contain eight one-bedroom flats. All the properties would then be allocated for affordable housing.

The matter was considered at the delegated planning committee of Warwick District Council on Thursday (October 21) when it was explained that there had been six objections to the proposals relating to the loss of trees, the scale of the apartment building and the work being insensitive to the historic buildings.

But councillors welcomed the scheme and urged the council’s development services manager - who will have the final say - to grant permission.

Committee chair Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington Lillington) said: “We will be pleased to see a solution that gives us preservation of the buildings and 100 per cent affordable housing.”

Seven car park spaces, which is three fewer than than the council’s own recommended standards, will be provided if the scheme goes ahead and access will be off Ansell Way.

A report considered by councillors explained: “Officers welcome the applicant’s proposals to restore and retain the two Grade II Listed buildings on the site and proposing a viable use that will secure the long-term retention and care of these buildings.

“The existing buildings and the site at present are in a poor state and are not reflective of a site that is of national and local historic importance. Whilst there will be some degree of harm resulting from the development, the benefits of the scheme including the restoration and retention of the listed buildings and substantial improvements to their setting are considered to far outweigh the harm.”

The first reference to the leper hospital was in 1275, but by 1540 it was said to be 'much in ruin’. The Chapel and Master’s House were converted to cottages in the 17th-18th Centuries and finally became uninhabitable by the mid-20th Century.