Tenants must repair old prison

Blades Cafe-Bistro in Northleach, Gloucestershire The Old Prison was built in the 1790s as a house of correction

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A listed building in the Cotswolds will be sold by the district council unless the cafe owner who rents it agrees to take on responsibility for repairs.

Nick and Felicity Blades want to renew their lease at Northleach's Old Prison when it expires on 25 September.

But Mr Blades said paying for repairs to the Grade II listed building could ruin their business.

A council spokesman said it was "not prepared to continue subsidising the property using taxpayers' funds".

Mr Blades said the property had not been surveyed by the council for five years, since their lease began, and he had no idea how much repairs would cost.

Cotswold District Council has given the couple 28 days to make a decision.

"At the moment our rent covers the cost of repairs and the council do them. We've got a backlog of maintenance issues which the council is aware of," Mr Blades said.

'Dispose of freehold'

He said that while he had two other businesses in the area, if the cafe closes he has concerns for his staff who have worked there since it opened.

The council spokesman said: "The lease for the Old Prison building was due for review and was duly considered by the council when it met on 12 July.

"Having considered the options available, there was cross party support for the following decision.

"The council agreed to dispose of the freehold of the property on the open market unless a full repairing and insuring lease at a rent approaching the current rent can be secured within 28 days."

The Old Prison was built in the 1790s as a house of correction.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board (CCB) has also leased part of the site for more than 10 years.

Director Martin Lane has said he is "surprised and disappointed" that the council was considering a sale option.

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