A historic boat-measuring house built in the 1800s is to be restored after a developer struck a deal to build houses on land next to it.
Stoford Living originally wanted to include the Grade-II listed Boat Gauging House in Factory Road, Tipton, in its long-running plans to build more than 30 homes, but a proposal to convert it fell through after concerns were raised by the Health and Safety Executive public body.
Wary of the scheme having to be scrapped completely, the company has decided to alter its plans and has instead pledged to restore the gauging house and build 35 one and two-bedroom apartments on land nearby.
Those plans have been backed by Sandwell Council and it appears work could finally be about to begin, eight years after the plans were first submitted.
The gauging house was built in 1873 in a bid to meet demands for greater accuracy in weighing the cargo carried by canal boats. More than 10,000 boats were gauged and registered at Tipton in the period between 1873 and 1900 and boats were still being gauged there in 1950.
Stoford Living had previously received planning permission to convert the now derelict gauging house, but quickly ran into difficulty when it emerged a pipeline running underneath it would need strengthening before any work could be done.
Safety experts said the work was necessary to protect future residents from the risk of a ‘major incident’.
But Stoford Living said the work would make the scheme ‘unviable’ and has decided the only way to keep its housing plans on course is by removing the gauging house from its plans. Bosses have pledged to restore it and said the safety warnings do not rule out its future use as a place of work.
A design and access statement submitted with the new plans said: “Following further discussions it was considered that a suitable way forward was to submit the application now which removes the gauging house from the originally approved scheme. This would enable the development of the remainder of the site.
“A commitment has been made by the applicant to restore the gauging house, the details of which would be agreed with the local planning authority.”
Tipton Councillor Ian Jones welcomed the pledge to restore the building.
“If it means the gauging house is brought back into worthwhile use and the housing development is in keeping with the area, the more the better,” he said.
“It’s a historic area and if nothing happens to it, it will be vandalised, it would have been lost.”
Subscribe to our Newsletter