A dramatic fallout over plans to build a road running next to the wife of William Shakespeare’s former home is set for D-Day after an extraordinary meeting was called.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has spent more than £100,000 over more than six years fighting plans to develop next to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon.
However, trustees will hold an extraordinary meeting on October 3 to decide whether to finally relent and sell a small parcel of land in Shottery to developers Bloor and Hallam Land Management.
If they do, a road will be built linking two housing estates both secured planning in the last three years but developers need to build the link road first before they can start work on the two estates.
It will bring to a close a drawn-out row between the trust, the district council and developers which resulted in Government in intervention.
In 2013, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles overturned the decision of Stratford District Council to reject plans to build 800 homes alongside a primary school and health centre.
Peter Kyle, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said it had ploughed money into technical, legal and financial advice is it sought to fight off demands on its land.
He said: “Alongside many others, we have opposed the developers’ housing development and link road proposal. The current situation is that the Secretary of State has allowed the developers’ appeal and the High Court has ruled against the district council’s legal challenge. We now have to deal with the consequences of decisions made by others.
“Our job is to get the best outcome in line with our duty to protect and enhance the Shakespeare legacy which is in our care, including the five Shakespeare family homes, the internationally
renowned museum and archive collections, and our education programmes.”
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is seen as having particular significance as her romance with the young Bard is believed to have blossomed in the picturesque cottage gardens.
But in his will he left her only the second best bed leading to speculation that by the time they reached old age the romance had cooled.
The Grade I Listed building, the family home of Shakespeare’s wife, attracts more than 136,000 visitors from around the world each year, in an area where tourism generates around 7,000 jobs.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is a registered charity owning five properties in and near Stratford with links to Shakespeare and his family.
Tourism to Stratford is a vital asset to Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands. Not only is it a big draw across the nation, it is also a huge part of demand from Chinese visitors heading to Birmingham Airport to pay homage to Shakespeare, born in the district in 1564.
It draws in about 5.5 million of visitors a year.