Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's statement on Shottery development.

18 July 2013

We are deeply disappointed that the SDC’s legal challenge to the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow the appeal against SDC’s refusal to grant consent will not proceed.

We have been actively engaged in making the case against this scheme since 2009, and over the years we have invested significantly in independent reports and advice.  Since the Secretary of State’s disappointing decision to allow the developer’s appeal, we have been revisiting our own evidence and gathering further reports and professional advice so that we have the fullest possible understanding of the degree of harm to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, and also what we might do about it. 

It would have been premature to reach any conclusions before the outcome of the SDC’s legal challenge was known.  We have a legal and moral duty to act in the best interests of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the five Shakespeare Houses & Gardens in our care – in this case, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in particular - and an absolute responsibility to make a decision only when we have all the information to make a reasonable judgement.  

We now intend to hold an EGM as soon as possible to present all of the expert evidence and information we have gathered to the full board of Trustees, so that they can consider whether there is any need to alter our position. 


22 November 2012 Statement

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will not be in a position for some time to consider a decision about whether to sell land required for the proposed housing development at Shottery.   The charity will not reach any conclusions about its next course of action in relation to the Shottery development, at least until the outcome is known of the Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to allow the development.    In the meantime, the Trustees of the charity have charged their Executive Committee to gather further information and professional advice to inform a rigorous assessment of all options before any decision is required.  The Trustees have agreed that such a critical decision, should one be needed, would require endorsement by the full governing body of the Trust.

Trustees of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust held their regular half annual meeting on Saturday 17 November.  During the meeting they received a detailed update about the implications for the Trust of the Secretary of State’s decision to grant the developer’s appeal for a residential development on land adjacent to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, which is cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  Their discussion focussed on the criteria against which any future decision would be made about whether to sell the strip of land required for the development to proceed.

The sole criteria for a decision will be the charitable objectives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  The most directly relevant objective is the Trust’s duty to maintain and preserve the five Shakespeare Houses & Gardens for the benefit of the nation; the Trust is also responsible for the care of the internationally important Shakespeare-related museum, library and archive collections, and for promoting Shakespeare’s legacy worldwide.  Trustees have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In a statement following the meeting, Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “The Trust is an objector to this scheme on the grounds of the harm it would cause to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, its setting and its Registered Park and Garden.    That is our sole concern in the proposed development.  We are keenly aware of the strength of opposition to the proposed development.  It is not the Trustees’ role to take into account the wider issues about the location or amount of housing to be built in Stratford.”

“The situation is complex and still evolving and the Trustees will not make any decisions until we have all possible information and advice.  We are extremely disappointed by the Secretary of State’s decision to allow the developer’s appeal.   We hope that people will understand why we cannot make a snap judgement in this difficult position.”