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Grade I-listed Gothic tower compulsorily purchased

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Hadlow Tower in Kent, one of Britain's finest examples of Gothic revival architecture, is being compulsorily purchased to save it from ruin.

The condition of the 19th-century, Grade I-listed folly has been deteriorating for many years and has been listed as 'poor' by English Heritage.

The owner, Michael Keisser, was issued with a repairs notice, but no work has begun on the £4 million restoration, leading to Tonbridge and Malling Council issuing a compulsory purchase order.

The council has secured a £2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and it hopes to raise the rest through Kent County Council.

David Hughes, CEO of Tonbridge and Malling Council, said: 'When large sums of money are needed for restoration, the legal provisions to protect listed buildings are not up to the task. I am delighted we have been able to identify an alternative approach that will save Hadlow Tower for this and future generations.'

The council is said to be working with Vivat Trust, and has created a properly funded rescue plan. Ownership of the tower will be transferred to Vivat Trust, which will undertake the restoration.

The trust will then rent out the tower for short breaks as a way of generating ongoing income, and guaranteeing some public access.

Designed by George Ledlow Taylor, the Gothic tower, known as 'May's Folly' was built in 1838. Most of the damage to the structure was sustained during the hurricane of 1987.

by Richard Vaughan

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