Rare 16th century threshing barn may be turned into a shop
A 16TH-CENTURY barn which was sold by the council for £1 could be converted into a retail store.
Grade II-listed Hooe Barn was bought by Wembury property developer Graham Truscott in 2010, and he was given more than £10,000 by Plymouth City Council on the condition the barn was put to "community use."
Mr Truscott's latest application is for the barn to be used as a retail outlet, with options including a shop or a cafe.
The crumbling building, which is one of only three remaining Elizabethan threshing barns in the country, has fallen into disrepair and is in desperate need of a re-fit.
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It had been hoped that Mr Truscott would turn it into a village hall or community centre, but planning agent Ashley Sodergren told the Herald that would be unsustainable.
He said: "The barn is in a reasonable condition but the proposal is to restore it to bring it back to full and effective use.
"We have tried looking at community use but it simply doesn't stack up.
"There is going to be a lot of money spent on it so it has to have a commercial use where there is some sort of payback."
Mr Truscott wants to demolish the surrounding buildings, which include a garage, a newsagents and a pasty shop, in order to "expose" the barn.
But William McGonagle, of McMullins Motors, who has leased those buildings since 1971, said: "Obviously it is going to affect me because they want to get me out and I would have nowhere to go."
Mr Truscott plans to build a new MOT centre elsewhere on the site, but Mr McGonagle said: "I don't want an MOT centre. I want to sell cars, that's what I do."
The Herald contacted Mr Truscott but he declined to comment.
Turnchapel and Mount Batten Residents' Association chairman John Wheeler said 20 jobs would be lost if the garage and other buildings were demolished.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions," he said. "They must all go before the planning committee."
Robin Blythe-Lord, Plym Valley Heritage president and former head of the Friends of Hooe Barn group, said: "Speaking purely personally, it is good to see the extent to which Mr and Mrs Truscott want to restore and renovate the barn.
"It is also good to see that the garage would be moved over to one side into a modern building with new facilities. That should preserve jobs and serve the community.
"I see no huge problem with a retail unit in the barn. It would depend upon what it was though. Something of a general nature would be appropriate.
"At the end of the day the Barn does have to make enough money to be self sustaining."
Concerns have been raised about the £10,853 that was given to Mr Truscott by Plymouth City Council in January 2010 as part of the deal.
But Mr Blythe-Lord says the authority never specified how the money should be used.