Hopes of speedy transfer talks to give back Bishop's Barn and Recreation Ground to Wells

Mendip District Council and Wells City Council are progressing with talks to return two precious assets to the community.

At a meeting with the city's newly-appointed mayor, Cllr Philip Welch, Mendip reconfirmed its offer to give back the Bishop's Barn and Recreation Ground to the people of Wells.

With discussions well underway between the two parties, the District Council hopes a speedy transfer can be achieved.Bishops Barn, Wells

Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: "This Council likes to see local communities shape their own future and make use of key community assets. That's why we are delighted to be working with the new mayor in Wells on this exciting offer. We have discussed options and anticipate these much-loved facilities will be successfully handed back soon.

"Local people will make this terrific historic building, and its surroundings work for them. We know this is what Wells wants, and with suitable governance assurances in place, we expect to move forward quickly."

Cllr Welch thanked Mendip for their friendly and constructive approach to the talks.

"After more than 45 years returning control of the Recreation Ground and Bishop's Barn to Wells is in sight," he said.

"In late Victorian times the Bishop of Bath and Wells gave both assets to the people of Wells for their enjoyment and recreation under the direction of the city's aldermen.

"Then in 1974, under a local government reorganisation, the newly-created Mendip District Council was handed control of the Wells Recreation Ground and Bishop's Barn and became the sole trustee when the Wells Recreation Ground charity was formed in 1982. The Wells Recreation Ground Trust Committee was established in 2013 and given delegated powers by the trustee to manage the day-to day operations of these community assets.

"It is time they were returned to Wells and I hope the long wait will soon be over."

The 15th century barn is one of only 200 Great Barns remaining in the UK. It is protected as a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument of national significance. Located close to the Bishop's Palace in the centre of Wells, the medieval structure sits within a public Recreation Ground which features a bandstand, Bowling Green, toilet block, and popular play area.

Cllr Wyke added: "When we emerge from this pandemic, communities will want to gather together and celebrate again. I am confident the Bishop's Barn will prove to be a pivotal venue in the heart of the city and one that will flourish in local hands."