Mendip move to place much-loved local amenities into community hands

Wells' historic Bishops Barn and the neighbouring recreation ground, are to be offered back to the local community after almost half a century of Mendip District Council control.

The news has been greeted with enthusiasm in the City. Kirstie Harris, leader of the Wake Up Wells community movement, who have campaigned to transfer ownership of the amenities back to the City said: "We are absolutely delighted. The Barn has so much potential for community use and we hope this initiative will give it a whole new lease of life."Bishops Barn

In anticipation of an agreement that the assets can be handed over with suitable assurance for the safeguarding of them, Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, is offering in the first instance a three-year lease arrangement to Wells City Council to enable the Barn to flourish and thrive for the community.

Cllr Wyke said: "We want to increase the use of this wonderful building both for local people and for tourists and in the longer term return it completely to the community. We are hoping the lease will start in the spring."  

The Bishops Barn is a 15th century Great Barn - one of only 200 remaining in the UK.  Once part of the Bishops Palace estate, it was used for storing grain needed for bread and beer making.  Today, it is protected as a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument of national significance.

The Wells Recreation Ground is a public open space with a bandstand, bowling green, toilet block, children's play area, and an informal kick-about space.

The ancient Barn and the land around it, was gifted to the citizens of Wells for community activity in 1887 and was well-used for many years under the direction of the City's aldermen who ran local administration. However local government reorganisation meant the newly created Mendip District Council was handed control of the Barn and recreation ground in 1974.