The Woodoaks Association's funding plea to halt barn closure at Woodoaks Farm in Maple Cross

Watford Observer: (Left to right) Eve Howard, Lolly, 4, Sophie Hall and Daniel Mitchell. (Left to right) Eve Howard, Lolly, 4, Sophie Hall and Daniel Mitchell.

A group of young entrepreneurs are hoping to secure funding to redevelop a 16th Century barn at an under-threat farm in Maple Cross for community teaching.

Eve Howard, 22, has lived at Woodoaks Farm her entire life and after completing a modern drama degree at Brunel University she set up The Woodoaks Association with Sophie Hall, 22, and Daniel Mitchell, 23.

The not-for-profit organisation runs extra-curricular drama and sports workshops around the farm but at the moment they are not able to make use of the "Black Barn".

But Eve is hoping to change that and has applied to several different organisations to help fund the restoration of the building which she believes will make the farm "untouchable to developers".

She said: "We are hoping the barn will be redeveloped, unfortunately we weren’t successful in securing a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant but we are looking at other options.

"Our aim is really to have a base in the community where we can organise drama and sports for children and adults.

"It has only been going properly since 2012 and at the moment it has been very well received but using the barn would make a huge difference to us.

"The owners of the farm challenged us to come up with something that could go in there, the barn is suitable to use for some purposes but not for teaching at the moment."

One of the threats facing the farm is from a possible new secondary school on farm land. Farm owners John and Sally Findlay say losing a chunk of agricultural land will "make the farm unviable" to developers.

However The Woodoaks Association views the possibility of a new school on the site as an opportunity to grow the business.

Ms Howard said: "Woodoaks Farm is in constant threat from building developers, trying to turn this haven in the middle of the M25 into flats, office blocks or another Tesco.

"We don’t think a secondary school would have a negative effect for us.

"The provision of the school could even help us, they will be the main school in the area and could become our main customers."

At present the trio behind The Woodoaks Association all work at other jobs but hope they can grow the business enough to employ them all full time.

Ms Howard said: "I have lived on the farm my whole life with my family and the area has gone through so much change with buildings coming up all around it.

"It will be such a shame if this community thing isn’t provided with a life span."

Comments (3)

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10:58pm Wed 20 Mar 13

crazyfrog says...

Woodoaks Association should try and engage with the local community i am sure that local people would somehow help if they can,its a lovely old farm which dates back to ancient times would be a crime to see developers ever get hold of it.
Woodoaks Association should try and engage with the local community i am sure that local people would somehow help if they can,its a lovely old farm which dates back to ancient times would be a crime to see developers ever get hold of it. crazyfrog

8:21am Thu 21 Mar 13

OAC Bailiff says...

good luck to all involved
good luck to all involved OAC Bailiff

1:29pm Thu 21 Mar 13

garston tony says...

Good luck, its great to see young people being so pationate about giving back to their local community
Good luck, its great to see young people being so pationate about giving back to their local community garston tony

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