Fairlands Farmhouse in Stevenage has been derelict for more than six years, and the council says it doesn't have the funds to invest in the building, with plans for a pub/restaurant business to take it over failing to go ahead.

The historic landmark in Stevenage's Fairlands Valley Park has been disused since early 2017, when Digswell Arts Trust left, and has been targeted by vandals over the years and is dilapidated.

Stevenage Borough Council, which owns the building, says it has recently undertaken works to restore the roof of the farmhouse, but "does not currently have the resources to invest in the building".


Councillor Joan Lloyd, the council's executive member for resources and transformation, said: "This is a valued building, and had been in use as a community building for a number of years.

"There are no plans to dispose of the farmhouse at present, but the council, after years of underfunding, does not currently have the resources to invest in the building.

"The council will consider options to bring this back into use once the required funding and any running costs can be identified and ensure it achieves value for money for the taxpayer."

In 2019, the council estimated a cost of more than £600,000 to bring it back into use - a cost which is likely to have spiralled since then.


According to Historic England, the farmhouse became Grade II-listed in 2009 because it "retains significant elements of a 17th century timber-framed lobby entrance house", as well as retaining significant fixtures and fittings of the 17th century, including doors and door furniture. There is also a distinctive fireback of 1588.

Historic England said: "It demonstrates the evolution of domestic building from the 17th century and is indicative of the social and economic history of the area."

In 2019, Stevenage Borough Council said "discussions with one of the UK's leading independent and family pub/restaurant businesses" to take over the freehold of the historic farmhouse had "reached an advanced stage". 

However, these negotiations were halted due to the farmhouse being listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), following a nomination by Stevenage World Forum.


As an ACV, an expression of interest gave community groups six months to develop business plans for the Grade II-listed building's use, during which time a private sale was forbidden.

Two bids were submitted - one to use the 17th century farmhouse as a centre for healthy living and the other to re-establish a farm - but both proposals were rejected by the council for "commerical and financial reasons".

Negotiations with the pub/restaurant business continued until, under legal rules, community groups were once again permitted to submit an expression of interest.

A sole expression of interest came from David Martin, who was behind the failed bid to re-establish a farm. He said he wanted "to ensure the heritage is preserved".

In the end, the freehold for the farmhouse was not taken on by the pub/restaurant business and the building remains derelict to this day.